Foul Deeds Will Rise: Battle #2 by Kenton Kilgore with fiction and commentary from Patrick Eibel
Mission: Slave Raid. Points per Player: 2000
The Kabal of the Ozone Scorpions, new and improved after a substantial upgrade from the latest codex, didn’t win the first game of this campaign, but made a good showing, only losing by 2 Kill Points. Not bad for an army I hadn’t played in four years! The next mission Pat had planned was another one tailor-made for Death Twinkies: in “Slave Raid,” you gain points for enemy units destroyed in hand-to-hand combat, or by other means (usually shooting, but you’ll see how else) within 18” of one of your own units. Last time, Pat had brought the Wolf Brothers; this time, he would be fielding the Tau.
The Tau by Patrick Eibel
Common wisdom on selecting a Tau army relies on zipping your minimum-sized Fire Warriors around in Devilfish and basically playing hide and seek for six rounds. Being somewhat of a contrarian, I decided to go in an altogether different direction. I selected my army based on two things – markerlights and shooting. My plan was to just shoot all of the Dark Eldar vehicles and then the passengers while staying a safe distance away. Here then is my static force of shooty goodness.
I thought this would be a particularly effective shooting list, but then I was oblivious to the mission we were playing. When it came time to deploy, I realized there was a serious flaw in my plan given the parameters of the “Slave Raid” mission.
Kabal of the Ozone Scorpions by Kenton Kilgore
Pat’s set-up for the campaign dictated that I take Dr. Jheste, one of my favorite characters, who has appeared in several Scorpion battles (notably the Tooth and Claw campaign). I based the rest of my choices around the need to swiftly get up in the Tau’s collective faces and then pummel said faces in hand-to-hand combat, as my Death Twinkies cannot outshoot the Greys (but then, few armies can).
So, as you see, lots of speed—5 Raiders and 10 jetbikes—and lots of Assault-Phase punch. Wyches and Grotesques are overkill against the weedy Tau, but I brought them in case Pat took Kroot, and besides, while Dark Eldar certainly understand the concept of “overkill,” they don’t view it as a bad thing. Also in the army list is plenty of tank- and armor-killing, in the form of 8 blasters (with 18” range, thanks much), 3 blast pistols, and 5 dark lances.
The Dark Eldar deploy in a long line along the edge of their deployment zone, but no Tau are to be seen
We played at Pat’s house, on a 4' x 6' table that Pat had set up. We rolled randomly to determine table edge (usually he sets up and I pick the side I want) and Pat won. As dictated by the “Slave Raid” mission from the Battle Book, I deployed first, stringing most of my guys (except the Grotesques, who were in Jheste’s webway portal) in a long line at the edge of my deployment zone. Seeing as how I would go first on a 2+ on a d6, I wasn’t pressed about cover.
With the Dark Eldar massed like sharks at the beginning of a feeding frenzy, Pat opted to keep all his units in reserve. I rolled to see who would start the show, and—not surprisingly—it was me.
“Typical,” the leader of the Stinger Squad sneered, as his Raider came over the ridge and found the valley unoccupied.
“Hmm?” Dr. Jheste grunted, peering into the distance as he steadied himself on the Raider’s deck. Since his last rebirthing, his balance had not been quite the same. I’ll have to look into that, he told himself, for possibly the seventieth or eightieth time. And then, just as every time before, the thought was lost. “What’s that you say, Mardant?”
“The Tau,” Mardant, the leader of the Trueborn aboard the craft with Jheste, explained. “Either they’re too dim to notice that we’ve penetrated their territory, they’re too slow to respond, or they’re too cowardly to challenge us.” He patted the stock of his shard carbine. “It’s shameful.”
The other Dark Eldar Raiders zipped alongside, pilots wary, passengers—Wyches and Warriors—watching for any sign. Raiders screeched past on their bladed jetbikes. This world was a Tau outpost, and was known to be well guarded.
It was also supposedly the resting ground for at least one of the eldritch figurines of power that Jheste’s master, the mad Archon Syryx Lynatharr, had spent several years searching for—as had his rebellious daughter/lover, Dr’zzllah. In a rare display of trust, Lynatharr had sent Jheste and his minions to this planet to retrieve the figurines—but the Haemonculus did not know where they might be. Jheste was assured, however, that he would be able to persuade any of the Tau to help him find said figurines—and if the Tau they came across did not know, Jheste would not mind.
“That way,” Jheste commanded the pilot, pointing towards the horizon straight before them. “Full speed.”
“There’s no one there,” Mardant protested.
“I wish to have a good look about,” Jheste replied, a wry smile seeping across his face beneath his silver mask. “I do not share your lack of confidence in the Tau’s abilities,” he told Mardant. “They will be here any moment.”
Dr. Jheste turned to the pilot. “Full speed away,” he ordered, and the Raider rocketed forward. The others followed as fast as they could.
“And now?” Mardant asked, a few moments later. “There’s no one out here: this sector is empty. Our ocularscopes confirm that. Are you sure you know where you’re taking us?”
Jheste looked across the valley to the Raider loaded with the Handmaidens, the personal Wych guard of Dr’zzllah, under Hekatrix Phaedra. Why Lynatharr had thought it wise to include them in this expedition was beyond Jheste—but then again, given the Archon’s mental stability, perhaps there had been no thought at all on Lynatharr’s part.
“Do you speak to me so boldly because you believe that Phaedra will protect you?” Jheste demanded, whirling to face Mardant. “Does Dr’zzllah know that you are Phaedra’s sometime lover? Because she does not suffer her Handmaidens to bestow their affections on anyone but her.”
“I…I don’t kno—” Mardant began.
your stammering, mooncalf,” Jheste snarled, pointing over Mardant’s
shoulder. “Lo, our hosts have arrived.”
Tau Crisis Suits, Broadsides, and Fire Warriors appear on the scene to challenge the Ozone Scorpions
Something silently streaked down from the sky, its descent unslowed until a fraction of a second before it touched down in the valley, not far from the Dark Eldar. Another came down behind an old bastion. Something else came down, too, but went horribly awry: instead of coming to a sudden but gentle stop, this one slammed into the rocky outcroppings scattered about the valley floor and exploded. Elsewhere, two squads of Fire Warriors accompanied by twin Broadside suits tramped into view.
The Crisis Suits that had survived insertion began firing at Raiders, desperately, if futilely, trying to make up for the loss of the Commander whose suit had tragically malfunctioned. The Broadsides combined their fire with the Monats, and their railguns destroyed the craft occupied by the Kabalite Warriors of the Blue Scorpions, killing four of them in the explosion.
Fire from the Broadsides also stunned the pilot of the Raider carrying the Wyches that made up the Ring of Honor, and destroyed its dark lance armament. Mercifully for the Ozone Scorpions, the Fire Warriors were out of range.
“Splendid,” Dr. Jheste said, applauding as he surveyed the carnage. Under his mask, he grinned. “Now,” he said, turning again to Mardant, “let us entertain our hosts, shall we?”
While Wyches race towards the Fire Warriors, Reavers and Kabalite Warriors threaten the Crisis Suits
The Ozone Scorpions pounced, the Reaver squads whizzing past the Fire Warriors and the Monats, slashing with their bladevanes and releasing caltrop clusters as they went. Three Warriors died and despite his armor, one Monat was injured.
Dr. Jheste and the Stinger Squad dismounted from their Raider, the Trueborn incinerating one Monat with their blasters as the Haemonculus fiddled with the puzzlebox he always carried. The surviving Kabalite Warriors from the destroyed Raider gunned down the other, wounded Monat. Meanwhile, a gash appeared in the air nearby, eldritch purple light flowing into the material universe as the webway portal began to open.
Eklavdrah and the Ring of Honor made their way through the skeletal remains of an old building and charged the closest unit of Fire Warriors. The Wyches slew nine of the Tau and lost one of their own. The Fire Warriors’ nerve broke and they attempted to run. The Wyches would have none of that, of course, and sliced down the Tau before they could retreat.
A Crisis Suit Team touches down near Dr. Jheste and his open webway portal. The numbered counters indicate how many Power From Pain tokens each Dark Eldar unit currently has.
Tau reinforcements flooded the area: two more units of Fire Warriors arrived, as did both Piranhas and two units of Pathfinders, with their transports. With silent jetpacks, a Crisis Suit Team touched down not far from Jheste’s position. The Haemonculus felt a moment of intense panic before he realized—to his considerable relief—that the Crisis Team was targeting the Stinger Squad’s Raider and not himself.
The Crisis Team managed to stun the pilot of the Raider; elsewhere, other Tau units were also targeting the Dark Eldar’s mobility. The Pathfinders’ Devilfish killed one of the Reavers from Black Scorpion Squad 3, but fired to no effect on the Handmaidens’ Raider. The Piranhas, however, were more successful, destroying the same Raider and killing five of the Handmaidens in the explosion. Fire from the Broadside Suits wrecked the Silver Scorpions’ Raider, sending it crashing to the ground nearby.
Tau reinforcements come on among the Dark Eldar force: will they be enough?
A hideous centaur-like combination of Dark Eldar and giant scorpion wriggled from the purple light seeping out from the webway portal, followed swiftly by five gigantic, chittering blue scorpions, each the size of a Space Marine Attack Bike. “Ah, Wormwood: right on time,” Dr. Jheste cooed, pointing the Grotesques and their master towards the Crisis Suit team nearby. Before the monsters could reach them, a team of Reaver jetbikes slashed past, their blades and caltrops cutting down one of the Tau armored warriors.
Grotesques (proxied using Giant Scorpion figures from Reaper Miniatures) emerge from the webway portal. Under the old DE codex, I used these as Warp Beasts (the critters that follow Beastmasters)
The dismounted Blue Scorpion Kabalite Warriors fired their blaster at one of the Piranhas, disabling its fusion gun. More blaster shots from the Stinger squad of Trueborn destroyed the Piranhas’ drones. The Reaver-mounted blaster from Black Scorpions Squad 3 stunned the pilot of the other Piranha.
Reavers take out one Crisis Suit with their bladevanes, and then the super-powered Grotesques (with two Power From Pain tokens) are upon the rest of the Tau
The Handmaidens powered up their haywire grenades and charged one of the Pathfinders’ Devilfish, easily shaking the crew, immobilizing the transport, and destroying its burst cannon. The Reavers of Black Scorpion Squad 3 charged the Piranhas, destroying the fusion blaster on the other one and wrecking the other. The Mandrakes also charged the Piranhas, to no avail.
The last of the Tau—a Fire Warrior squad and two Sniper Teams—arrived on the scene, choosing wisely to deploy far from the Ozone Scorpions. The surviving Piranha moved flat out away from the Dark Eldar, towards the reinforcements. The drones of the immobilized Devilfish detached and the Pathfinders inside emerged.
The Pathfinders from the other Devilfish also disembarked, and their transport moved a short distance away and detached its drones. Markerlights from Fire Warriors lit up the Reavers of Black Scorpion Squad 3, but the Fire Warriors themselves did not have range on them.
Gun drones, Pathfinders, and the mobile Devilfish fired at the Handmaidens, killing two but failing to pin them. Drones and Pathfinders also fired on Black Scorpions 3, but did no damage.
“He still lives,” he informed Wormwood, the centaur-like leader of the Grotesques. “Truss him and have him sent back with the other captives. He’ll be the centerpiece of our feast.”
Reavers screeched through the Tau, one unit of jetbikers killing 5 Fire Warriors as they went, another unit slaying all four Pathfinders of a squad. The Mandrakes swamped the other Pathfinders, tending them to pieces. As the Handmaidens disabled the gun drones of the downed Devilfish.
Reavers slice their way through masses of Fire Warriors
The Fire Warriors that had survived the Reavers’ onslaught fell back and rallied. Maneuvering for better firing positions, the Tau unleashed vicious salvoes that wiped out the Reavers of Black Scorpion Squads 1 and 2, and immobilized a weaponless Raider. Nevertheless, it was clear that to prolong the fight would only ensure that more Tau fell into the clutches of the vile Ozone Scorpions. The Tau sounded the retreat and made haste to withdraw.
From his vantage point, far from the billowing plumes of smoke from the wreckage of the destroyed vehicles, Dr. Jheste began to clap again, slowly at first, then more and more enthusiastically.
Ozone Scorpions: 14 points
Tau: 8 Points
Winner: Dark Eldar
Post-Game Analysis by Patrick Eibel
Well, that was a royal beat down. After the game was over, Kenton suggested that I would have been better served by starting the Pathfinders and Snipers on the board in the cover of a building. I have no such illusions. Kenton had a fast army and then the mission gave him half the board. The only way to adequately counter his speed was to outmaneuver him with Devilfish, of which I actually have plenty. Since this was probably the last game I am going to play with the Tau under the current codex, I wish I could have put up a better showing.
Oh, well. Next month will pit the Drowboys ™ against my Tyranids, which should prove most interesting. Now if you excuse me, I am going to go read the next mission thoroughly.
Reavers and Mandrakes maul the Pathfinders, which Pat has modeled as if riding on giant lizards
Post-Game Analysis by Kenton Kilgore
Given the mission set-up and Pat holding everything in reserve, I could have just started with the Grotesques on the board and not taken a webway portal. I forgot to use the blast pistols the Hexatrixes carry, and the Mandrakes didn’t get a chance to do much: the Raider-mounted Wyches beat them to their targets.
The Reavers’ speed, bike blades and caltrop clusters were awesome: if my guys weren’t close enough to charge a target, they’d just turbo-boost past it, slicing and dicing as they went. I lost two squads of them in the last turn (giving Pat two more points) by aggressively going after his Fire Warriors, but I did so in the thought that the game would continue into Turn 6 and maybe 7. Had the game gone on, my forces were well-positioned to continue the brutality.
Posted January 2012