Thursday, 12 April 2018

Battle Report 141- Dark Angels vs T'au

This week's battle report is a 2000 pts game that sees my Dark Angels take on Mark's T'au.

For this game, we were playing the new Eternal War mission, Scorched Earth. This is the mission where you score a point for each objective you hold at the end of the turn. In addition, you can burn an objective in your opponent's deployment zone for D3 points, where it is then removed. We were using the Search and Destroy deployment zone.

For my force, I was wanting to test out a potential list for the London Grand Tournament in May. I'm still in the process of painting up the models, so apologies for the grey on display!

My army consisted of:
Battalion Detachment
Azrael (Az)
Primaris Lieutenant- Master-crafted Auto Bolt Rifle (L)
Chapter Ancient- Boltgun, Sacred Standard (An)
5 Intercessors- Bolt Rifle (I1)
5 Intercessors- Bolt Rifle (I2)
5 Tactical Squad- Heavy Bolter, Bolters (TS1)
5 Scouts- Bolters, Heavy Bolter (S1)
5 Scouts- Bolters, Heavy Bolter (S2)
5 Scouts- Bolt Pistols, Combat Knives (S3)
10 Hellbalsters- Plasma Incinerators (H)

Outrider Detachment
Sammael (S)
5 Black Knights- Plasma Talons, Corvus Hammers (BK)
3 Ravenwing Bikers- Flamer, Twin Bolters (RB1)
3 Ravenwing Bikers- Twin Bolters (RB2)
Ravenwing Darkshroud- Assault Cannon (D)
Dark Talon- Rift Cannon, two Hurricane Bolters (DT)

8 Command Points.

This army has a very strong firebase core. The 10-man Hellblaster squad is back up by Azrael, an Ancient and the Lieutenant. This gives them a very strong offensive and defensive capability, as they get full re-rolls to hit and re-roll of 1 to wound, as well as a 4+ invulnerable. In addition, the Ancient gives them the option to fire back if slain.
I am trying out the Primaris Intercessors to see how they perform in action, as well as the almost-compulsory three units of Scouts for blocking enemy deep strike movements.

The Outrider detachment provides a nice mobile element for the army. Sammael is a great back up for the Black Knights, combined with the Darkshroud to help keep them safe. The two units of Bikers can grab objectives, while the flyer also provides some potent firepower.

Mark's army consisted of:
Battalion Detachment
Cadre Fireblade (F1)
Cadre Fireblade (F2)
Cadre Fireblade (F3)
Commander- Enforcer Battlesuit, 4 Fusion Blasters (C)
Longstrike- Twin-linked Smart Missile System, two Seeker Missiles (L)
5 Strikers (S1)
5 Strikers (S2)
5 Strikers (S3)
5 Pathfinders (P1)
5 Pathfinders (P2)
3 Crisis Battlesuits- Two Plasma Rifles each, Shield Generators (CB1)
3 Crisis Battlesuits- 2 Burst Cannons, Advanced Targeting System, Flamers (CB2)
Ghostkeel- Fusion Collider, 2 Fusion Blasters, Advanced Targeting System, Target Lock, 2 Shield Drones (G)
Riptide- Heavy Burst Cannon, 2 Smart Missile Systems, Advanced Targeting System, Target Lock (R)
3 Stealth Battlesuits- 3 Burst Cannons, Shield Generators, Homing Beacon (SB1)
3 Stealth Battlesuits- 3 Burst Cannons, Shield Generators, Homing Beacon (SB2)
Hammerhead Gunship- Twin Plasma Cannon (H1)
Hammerhead Gunship- Railgun, 2 Smart Missile Systems, 2 Seeker Drones (H2)

I hadn't played the Tau since the codex dropped, so would be interested to see how they would perform in 8th edition. The army featured a good mix of basic troops, battlesuits and Gunships.

We set up the objectives as shown below:

We then deployed our units as shown below:

I deployed the Hellblasters, Azrael, Lieutenant and Ancient in the ruins towards the front of my deployment zone, ready to advance on the enemy. The Black Knights and Sammael went to their right, supported by the Darkshroud. I put one unit of Intercessors on the objective on the back of my deployment zone (the Dark Talon keeping them company), with another on the objective in the ruins to my left, while the Tactical Squad inbetween to block deep striking Crisis Suits. I spread the Scouts around outside my deployment zone to push back the enemy army. The two Ravenwing Bike squads went on the south flank to speed towards the objectives.

Mark spread his Strike Squads and Pathfinder squads out along his main lines, supported with the Cadre Fireblades spread out among them. The three Hammerheads set up at the back of his deployment zone, with the Riptide to the left. The Ghostkeel went in the centre, with one unit of Stealth suits beside it, while the other deployed forward towards the Dark Angels lines. The rest of th army went in reserve to deep strike in on my army.

Even though I got the +1 to go first, I lost the roll off and Mark took the first turn after I failed to seize the initiative.


There was little movement from the Tau lines. Only the larger battlesuits, the Riptide and Ghostkeel moving up on the Dark Angels. Both units of Stealth Suits crept towards the enemy force, the squad on the left dropping their homing beacon as they closed the distance.

At the end of his turn, the Flamer Crisis Battlesuits arrived besides the Hellblasters and Scouts. I used Auspex Scan, recovering one command point thanks to Azrael's warlord trait. The Hellblasters opened fire on the newly arrived Suits, causing 6 wounds, enough to slay the reserves and give me First Blood.

The Tau shooting then opened up. The Pathfinders and Strike Squads used their Markerlights to light up several of the Dark Angels units, including the Scouts, Ravenwing Bikers and Hellblasters.

Longstrike fired on the Ravenwing Bikers, killing one of the squad with his firepower. The nearby Stealth Suits fired at the combat Scouts in the crater, wounding them six times and killing four of the squad. The Ghostkeel added its firepower, killing the last member of the squad.

On the other flank, the Riptide opened fire at the Scouts in the ruins, killing four of the squad. The Stealth Suits added their firepower, killing the last member of the squad.

The Hammerhead Gunship fired at the Bikers, hitting once, but failing to wound. The other Hammerhead fired its Missile Pods at the unit, causing one wound on the Biker.

At the end of his turn, Mark scored two objective points.


The Ravenwing launched themselves at the Tau lines. The Black Knights used the Speed of the Raven Stratagem to advance on the Strike Squad in front of them, while Sammael moved up on the Stealth Suits and the Dark Talon sped over the battlefield to target the Tau backfield.

The Hellblasters moved up on the Tau lines, supported by the nearby Dark Angels characters. On the left flank, one unit of Bikers advanced on the objective, the second squad moving up to support them.

In the shooting phase, the Black Knights used Weapons of the Dark Age on their overcharging Plasma Talons. They opened fire on the Riptide, scoring nine hits for the loss of one of the Black Knights. I used a command point re-roll to secure 6 wounds and four got through the Riptide's invulnerable save, causing 12 damage on the Battlesuit.

The Dark Talon fired its Rift Cannon at the Riptide, but failed to hit with its two shots. The Hurricane Bolters targeted the Tau units, killing three Pathfinders and 3 of the Strike Squad. The Darkshroud fired its Assault Cannon at the Riptide, wounding it once more.

Sammael fired his Plasma Cannon at the Riptide, destroying the mighty Battlesuit. He fired his Storm Bolters at the Stealth Suits in front of him, wounding them once.

On the left flank, the Bikers fired at the second unit of Stealth Suits, killing one of the squad. The nearby Intercessors fired at the squad, but were unable to cause any damage.

The Hellblasters opened fire on the Ghostkeel, choosing not to overcharge, as they would die on a roll of a 1-3 thanks to the penalties of the battlesuit. They managed to kill the two Drones and wound the Ghostkeel twice.

In the charge phase, the Black Knights assaulted the Strike Squad, while Sammael charged the Stealth Suits. The overlapping fire of the Tau hit the Black Knights, taking 18 overwatch shots and four wounds. I failed two saves, using a command point to pass one and the four Knights made it in to combat.

Sammael struck at the Stealth Suits, wounding them three times and killing only one after a good round of invulnerable saves on the battlesuits. The Black Knights struck at the Tau, doing 5 wounds, but Mark made three of his 5+ saves! The squad consolidated into the Cadre Fireblade. The Tau struck back, but did no damage.

In the morale phase, one of the Pathfinders fled the field. At the end of my turn, I scored 5 objective points and first blood.

Tau- 2
Dark Angels- 6

A great start for the Dark Angels. Auspex Scan was great, allowing me to slay the Crisis Suits before they could fire and score First Blood.


The Stealth Suits on the right flank moved up, dropping their Homing Beacon, while the other squad fell back from combat with Sammael. The Hammerheads moved around to gain better firing lanes on the Dark Angels.

At the end of the phase, the second unit of Crisis Suits landed besides the Ravenwing Bikers.

The Strike Squad fired their markerlights at the Hellblasters, using a stratagem to gain extra lights on the unit. The other Markerlights hit the Dark Talon and two Bike squads.

The Ghostkeel fired on the Dark Talon, managing 5 hits and four wounds, utterly obliterating the enemy flyer.
The Stealth Suits and Strike Squad fired on the Hellblasters, wounding them once.

The Hammerhead fired its Burst Missiles at the Hellblasters. The 24 shots hit 22 times and caused 19 wounds! Five of the squad died in a hail of fire. The Ancient was able to allow one of the casualties to fire back and he put two wounds on the Ghostkeel.

The other Hammerhead fired on the Intercessors, killing one of them. Longstrike fired at the Bikers, killing one with his Missile System.

The Stealth Suit fired at the last Biker, wounding him twice. I failed both saves and the squad perished. The Fire Warriors fired at the second Biker squad, wounding them four times, but I made all my armour saves. The Crisis Battlesuits fired their Plasma Guns at the Bikers, but failed to get past their Jink save.

In the fight phase, the Cadre Fireblade struck at the Black Knights, wounding them twice after some great rolling. I failed both saves and one Knight perished. The Black Knights struck at the Strike Squad, slaying them all.

In the morale phase, the Hellblasters passed their test. At the end of the turn, Mark scored two points for holding two objectives.


The Hellblasters and Dark Angels characters continued to move up on the enemy army. Sammael moved up on the Hammerhead Gunships, supported by the Ravenwing Bikers.

In the shooting phase, the Black Knights fired their pistols at the Cadre Fireblade, but failed to harm him. The Bikers fired at the Strike Squad, killing two of them. Sammael fired his Storm Bolters at the squad, killing two more. His Plasma Cannon took a wound from the Ghostkeel.

The Hellblasters used Weapons of the Dark Age and fired at the Ghostkeel, only hitting three times with their 10 shots and wounding once. Azrael fired his Plasma Gun at the Ghostkeel, destroying the Battlesuit.

The Primaris Lieutenant fired at the last of the Pathfinders, killing him. The Intercessors fired at the Stealth Suits on the right, wounding them 3 times, but failing to get past their armour.

The Scouts fired their Heavy Bolter at the closest Strike Squad, killing one of them.

In the fight phase, the Black Knights were finally able to put a wound on the Cadre Fireblade, but he passed his armour save. In reply, the Fireblade managed another 2 wounds. Again, I failed both saves an another Black Knight died. So much for Tau being terrible in combat!

At the end of the turn, Sammael raised the objective for 2 points and I scored another 4 objective points.

Tau- 4
Dark Angels- 12


The Crisis Suits moved up on the Ravenwing Bikers, while the Stealth Suits moved to grab the objective. The Tau Commander arrived, landing near the Darkshroud.

One of the Fireblades attempted to fire Markerlights at Sammael, but both missed, despite hitting on a 2+. The Pathfinders were able to mark the Master of the Ravenwing twice.

The Stealth Suits fired at the Hellblasters, wounding them 5 times, but failing to get past their invulnerable save.

The Commander fired on the Darkshroud, taking 5 wounds from the enemy skimmer. The Hammerhead fired at Sammael, killing him with the Railgun. The other Hammerhead fired at the Hellblasters, wounding them four times, but I made all my invulnerable saves.

The Crisis Suits fired their Plasma Guns at the Bikers, killing one of them. Longstrike was able to finish off the last Biker. The Stealth Suits fired at the Intercessors, but were unable to cause any harm.

In the fight phase, the Fireblade was unable to kill a Black Knight for once. The two Black Knights hit twice, but failed to wound on a 3+!

At the end of his turn, Mark scored one objective point.


The Black Knights fell back from combat, I used my last two command points on the Intractable stratagem to allow them to still fire. Azrael led the Hellblasters up towards the Stealth Suits.

In the shooting phase, the Black Knights overcharged their Plasma Talons and fired at the Tau Commander, taking four wounds from him. The Scouts fired at the Commander and managed to take another wound from him.

The Darkshroud fired at the Pathfinders, killing one more. The Hellblasters overcharged their weapons and fired at the Crisis Suits and managed to kill them.

In the charge phase, Azrael and the Hellblasters assaulted the Stealth Suits. A great round of rolling saw the Hellblasters take 6 wounds in overwatch, killing one of the squad.

In the fight phase, Azrael managed to kill one of the Stealth Suits, while the Hellblasters finished off the squad.

In the morale phase, the last Pathfinder fled the battlefield. At the end of my turn, I scored four objective points.

Tau- 5
Dark Angels- 16


The Tau held their positions to fire on the Dark Angels to full effect.

They began with firing their Markerlights at the Black Knights, using a Stratagem to get 2 extra hits on the unit.

The Strike Squad fired at the Black Knights, but failed to do any harm. The Commander then used an Orbital Bombardment (stratagem) to kill one of the Black Knights.

The Stealth Team fired on the Intercessors, but failed to do any harm.

The Hammerhead opened fire on the Hellblasters once more, causing 8 wounds, but only managing to kill one after another great round of invulnerable saves. The slain Hellblaster got to fire back thanks to the Ancient, and was able to slay the Cadre Fireblade in front of him.

At this point, Mark decided to call the game there. He was running out of units and my forces would be upon him the following turn.
End of the game.

Tau- 5
Dark Angels- 16

That Cadre Fireblade was a combat monster! While the T'au are generally not well regarded for their combat prowess, he was able to kill three Black Knights in combat, all while not taking a single wound in the process. Good thing he didn't inspire the rest of the gunline to go charging in.

Overall, I think the army worked well as a first test of their abilities.

The Hellblasters are a solid shooting unit, especially in a Dark Angels army. The ability to have each gun go up to 3 damage with the stratagem is incredibly powerful. Back up by the characters, they are a potent threat, but are a big target for the enemy guns.

I like how the list played. If I was to go again, I would probably swap the deployment of the backfield Intercessors and Tactical Squad. The longer range of the Heavy Bolter would be useful, while also allowing the Intercessors to fire more.

I will probably play another game with the army as it is now to see how it fares. Likely changes for the list are:
- Dropping Sammael. He is strong, but is expensive. I may go for a Jump Pack Master to give me a bit more deep strike mobility in the game. He can also provide re-roll bubbles for the Black Knights. This would also free up some points to add a second Flamer to the Bike squad and maybe add some more Bikers.
- Change the Tactical Squad Heavy Bolter for a Missile Launcher. This would give me some long range firepower and also allow me to use the Flakk Shells stratagem. I may even make them Devastators to allow me to use the signum to hit on a 2+ in most cases.

So, the first time out with the tournament test army was a success. I am hoping to get a game tomorrow against the Sisters of Battle once more to see how they perform.

Remember, you can join the St Andrews Wargaming facebook page for more updates on my hobby work, as well as sneak peaks at upcoming content. 


  1. I think you will regret getting rid of Sammael. He is excellent in assault and can often finish off high toughness things that the hell blasters start

    1. I think so. He provides a fast moving combat threat for the army.

  2. Poor,poor Tau. The Dark Angels slaughtered them.

    1. Good! That is the way things should be (praise the Emperor!).

  3. Honestly, it was a weak T'au list: no shield drones, no coldstar(s), flamer/plasma crisis, no broadsides...

    1. He did have a squad of Flamer Crisis Suits and Plasma Crisis Suits. Or do you mean Flamer and Plasma in one squad?

    2. I meant he was using flamer and plasma crisis, but the most efficient way of running them is with 3 cyclic ion blasters, or 2 CIBs + advanced targeting system. I didn't have time to write a long post, but Rathstar below said precisely what I had in mind! Regardless, great report as always

    3. You could do a rematch and let him proxy some more competitive stuff, so you both get a better feel of the armies. Though it won't make such a good battle report as this one with the proxies ;)

  4. Great report and pics. Really Like the black and yellow scheme on the Tau army (that yellow muct take forever to paint so well.

    The Tau list wasn't too optimised, but wasn't that weak, lost of things I would change, but it also depends on what models your Tau opponent has. The main issue was lack of drones, if you play any battlesuit bigger than a stealth suit without drone support its going to be a quick battle, even given that the Riptide should have used the Branched Nova Charge stratgem on turn 1, so he could have had the 3+ inv save as well as the nova charged weapon.

    Deepstring within 12" against a Marine army, let alone hellblasters ! I suppose most people learn that the hard way, I was lucky and saw it happen to someone else, otherwise I'd have been on the receiving end of something similar.

    Have a rematch against the Tau player after he's had a chance to have more games with the new codex. However it was still a great report and a pleasure to read.

    1. Yeah, Auspex Scan can provide a nasty shock if you are not prepared for it. As it was, he was just in range thanks to having to set the beacon a bit further back due to the Scouts blocking them.

      Glad you enjoyed it. I'll definitely need to get a rematch at some point.