Thursday, 8 October 2015

Battle Report 22- 1850 pts Ravenwing vs Tau

This week's battle report is another campaign game, with my Ravenwing taking on the might of the Tau Empire (ably commanded by Shaun).
As many of the regular readers will know, I am planning to take a Ravenwing army to the upcoming Blog Wars tournament. I have previously discussed what I think are the strengths and weaknesses of the army. I think that one of the toughest armies to face will be Tau. They have access to a range of high strength weaponry that will render my biker's increased toughness useless as well as having a lot of access to ignores cover for the whole army through markerlights. I wanted to see how my army would fare against a Tau force and challenged Shaun to a game.

My army consisted of:

Sammael on Corvex (S)
Librarian- Bike, master level 2, conversion field, Auspex, Meltabombs (L)
5 Ravenwing Command- Champion, Apothecary, Ravenwing banner, one grenade launcher (CS)
5 Black Knights- grenade launcher (BK)
5 Ravenwing Bikers- 2 Grav guns, sergeant with meltabombs (RB1)
5 Ravenwing Bikers- 2 Plasma guns, sergeant with meltabombs (RB2)
5 Ravenwing Bikers- 2 Meltaguns, sergeant with meltabombs (RB3)
Ravenwing Landspeeder- Multimelta, Typhoon missile launcher (RL)
Dark Talon (DT)
Darkshroud- Assault Cannon
3 Ravenwing Landspeeders- Heavy Bolters, Assault Cannons (RSS)

I decided to give the Librarian another go. I am torn about this as I can see the appeal of the Interromancy psychic powers, but just have not had much success with them in battle, whereas the Interrogator-Chaplain provides a reliable bonus to the Black Knights with his Zealot re-rolls. I rolled up my psychic powers and got Mind Worm, Aversion and Seeds of Fear. This was a really nice set of powers to get, Aversion would come in very handy, forcing a unit to snap fire each turn would hopefully make a serious dent on the Tau firepower coming my way.

I told Shaun that I was practicing for a tournament, but forgot to tell him how friendly Blog Wars can be. Therefore, the list he took was:

Shas'O Commander- Command and control node, multi-spectrum sensor suite, Neuroweb system jammer, onager gauntlet, puretide engram neurochip, iridium armour, shield generator, stimulant injector (C)
Ethereal (E)
12 Fire Warriors (FW1)
12 Fire Warriors (FW2)
3 XV8 Crisis suits- 2 plasma rifles (CS)
XV104 Riptide- Ion accelerator, twin-linked plasma, stimulant injector (R1)
3 Tetras (T1-T3)
3 XV9 Hazard suits- Burst cannons, counterfire defence systems (HS)
XV109 Y-vahra- stimulant injector (R2)
Skyray Tank (ST)
XV107 R'varna (R3)

Yep, that's three riptides! This looked like quite a tough army to face. My plan would be to rush them as fast as possible, hopefully taking out the markerlight squads quite early to save my Ravenwing. I could then hopefully use my superior speed to grab any objectives later in the game.

We rolled for mission and got The Scouring, where each objective is worth a secret number of points. I really like this mission. You don't know how valuable each objective is going to be, so you need to try and grab as many as possible.
We placed the objectives- Shaun placed two on one table side and one on the other. I chose to place all three of my objectives in the middle line of the board, hopefully forcing the Tau to advance into range of my units and stopping them from just sitting back and blasting me off the table.

I won the roll off for table side and chose the one with two objectives, no point making things easy on the Tau. I also won the roll off for deployment and chose to go first. Though it would be nice to have the last player turn with which to grab objectives, I thought it would be more prudent to try and damage as much as the enemy army as possible before facing a turn of the Tau shooting phase.

I figured that Shaun would focus his deployment on the ruins on either side of his board edge, so set up to match. The Command squad, Black Knights and Support squadron went to the left of my deployment. The rest of the army went to the right, including the Librarian.

Shaun then deployed his army. The Ethereal, a unit of Fire Warriors, the three Riptides and the Tetras went opposite the Black Knights. The ruins on the other side had the other unit of Fire Warriors and the Skyray. He chose to keep the two units of crisis suits and the commander in reserve. That was a heavy left flank for me to face. I was hoping I could deal with it with the two hammer units in my army. It would have been nice to have the grav guns and Librarian on the left to help deal with the Riptides.
Deployment and Scout Moves.

I then scouted forward with my entire army, hoping to get into rapid fire range to deal with the Tau army. Shaun failed to seize and I got the first turn.

Turn 1- Ravenwing.

The Ravenwing continued their advance on the Tau. The Command Squad and Black Knights advanced on the nearest Riptide, while the Support Squadron moved up on another Riptide. On the right flank, the plasma gun squad and Landspeeder advanced on the Skyray, while the other two bike squads moved up on the Fire Warriors.
The Ravenwing advance to get to the skyray.

A riptide is targeted.

In the psychic phase, the Librarian channelled his psychic powers, casting Aversion and Seeds of Fear on the Fire Warriors, weakening the enemy unit.

In the shooting phase, the plasma bike squad targeted the Skyray, causing one glancing and penetrating hit, both of which were saved by Jinking. The Landspeeder fired at the Skyray too. The multimelta hit was saved by Jinking, but the Typhoon missile was able to glance the skimmer.

The grav gun and meltagun bikers fired at the Fire Warriors, killing 5 of the Tau. The unit failed their morale check (thanks to Seeds of Fear) and fell back.

On the other flank, the Black Knights fired their plasma talons at the Riptide, causing 2 wounds on the enemy walker. The Command Squad followed up to their plasma talons, causing another 4 wounds and destroying the enemy creature. The Support Squadron fired at the Tetras. The assault cannon caused 6 penetrating hits, the Jink saves blocking half of them. One skimmer was wrecked and another was immobilised. The Heavy bolters struck 5 times, but failed to cause any damage to the vehicles.
My awesome armour penetration rolls.

The Ravenwing first turn was good, destroying one Riptide and damaging the Tau left flank. The Ravenwing braced themselves for the reply.

Turn 1- Tau.

The Fire warriors failed to rally and continued to fall back. The Riptides moved up to engage the Command Squad on one flank, while the Skyray retreated from the Ravenwing bikers.
The Riptides advance.

The skyray tries to retreat.

In the shooting phase, the Skyray fired at the Command squad, but was unable to damage the elite warriors. The immobilised Tetra fired its markerlights at the Support Squadron. Despite firing snap hits, it managed to hit twice, stripping the cover saves from the landspeeders (this would not be good). The second Tetra managed to penetrate one of the landspeeders, destroying its heavy bolter.

A Riptide fired at the support squadron, both blasts hitting the squadron. Thanks to the cluster mines, this resulted in 9 hits, destroying two of the landspeeders and the Darkshroud.
The other Riptide fired at the Command Squad, its flamers causing  hits, killing 4 of the Knights and putting two wounds on Sammael (I never made a single Feel no Pain roll). The Fire Warriors on the right followed up targeting the Command Squad. The Ethereal granted them an extra shot to give a massive 27 shots and 11 wounds. Amazingly, the Jinking Command Squad saved all the wounds, leaving Sammael and the Apothecary as survivors.

That was a rough turn for the Ravenwing with the loss of almost all of the Support Squadron and Command Squad. Had I known about the flamer capabilities of the other Riptide, I would have targeted that one first to take it out. Also, I should have focused on the Tetras to eliminate them and get rid of the markerlight capabilities.

Turn 2- Ravenwing.

Sammael peeled off from the last remnant of the command squad to join the Black Knights, the lone Apothecary knowing his duty and that his sacrifice would not be in vain. On the right flank, the Ravenwing units moved to encircle the wounded Skyray.

In the psychic phase, the Librarian once again cast Aversion and Seeds of Fear on the Fire Warriors.

In the shooting phase, the last remaining landspeeder from the support squadron snap fired at the other unit of fire warriors, but the cover of the ruins saved them from damage.
The Black Knights fired at the Riptide in front of them, causing 7 wounds, three of which made it through the suit's defences.

On the other flank, the Ravenwing Landspeeder fired at the Skyray, its multimelta hitting but failing to even glance the enemy skimmer (I managed to roll less than 5 on 2D6). The grav gun bike squad also fired, but their weapons were blocked by the Jinking of the pilot. The plasma gun bike unit fired at the fire warriors, killing 3. The fire warrior's resolve held firm and they passed their morale check (despite testing on 3D6!).

In the assault phase, the Apothecary looked at the Riptide and gunned his engines, ready to take the brunt of the overwatch fire. The nearby Fire Warriors had other ideas and lent their supporting fire to the Tau battlesuit. Amazingly, the Fire Warriors did not managed a single hit out of 24 shots and the Apothecary survived. The Riptide decided to end the life of the enemy warrior and fired his flamers at the Apothecary, wounding him twice. However, luck was on his side and the Apothecary made both Feel No Pain rolls by rolling a double 6! The warrior survived and crashed into the Riptide. The Black Knights were not far behind, crashing in to help out the brave medic. The massed attacks of the Black Knights were enough to take down the monstrous creature and a second riptide was removed from play.
I consolidated the units as close as possible to the Tau. I was hoping that the Riptide firing the large blast may scatter on to the Tau units.
The second Riptide is assaulted.

On the right flank, the grav gun bikers assaulted the skyray. The sergeant's meltabombs blew the enemy skimmer sky high, but the resulting explosion resulted in the death of 3 marines (Shaun managed to wound me 4 times in the explosion and I failed three of the saves!).

Turn 2- Tau.

Seeing the devastation being wrought on both sides, the Tau reserves decided it was now time to arrive. The commander and his unit arrived on the right flank to help out the Ethereal, while the Hazard suits arrived on the other flank that had just collapsed.
The Fire warriors on the right failed to rally and fled from the board, while the fire warriors on the left moved back from the advance of the Black Knights.

The two surviving tetras put all four Markerlights on the Black Knights. These were then used to increase the ballistic skill of the last Riptide. It's large blasts scored two direct hits, causing 24 hits once the cluster mines were factored in. The hits caused 19 wounds, but fortunately for me, only one Black Knight dies thanks to my Jink saves. The Commander then led his squad in firing at the Black Knights. Granting them Ignores Cover, the squad's plasma rifles wiped out the rest of  the unit, including Sammael.

The Fire Warriors fired at the Apothecary, eager to finish him off. Despite causing 10 wounds, the Jinking rider saved them all again.

On the left flank, the Hazard suits fired at the meltagun bikers, but the Jinking bikers once again denied the Tau their kills.

An interesting turn for both of us, we had each cleared a flank and done a lot of damage to the enemy army. I had amazing luck with the Apothecary, surviving all the firepower the Fire Warriors and a Riptide could throw at him.

Turn 3- Ravenwing.

The Dark Talon arrived, manoeuvring on the left flank to target the Tau Commander. The rest of the bikers decided to abandon the left flank and focused on dealing with the Hazard suits and capturing the objectives.

In the psychic phase, the Librarian managed to cast all three powers on the Hazard suits, but failed to cause any wounds with Mind Worm.

In the shooting phase, the Dark Talon fired at the Commander and his Crisis suits. The Rift Cannon killed one of the suits instantly and the bolters caused a wound on another. They failed their blind test, so would have reduced effectiveness in the following turn. The rest of the bikers on the right flank targeted the Hazard Suits, killing two of them and reducing the last one to a single wound.

The meltagun squad finished off the survivor in the assault phase, their hammer of wrath attacks taking care of it.

Turn 3- Tau.

The mobile Tetra advanced on the Dark Talon, while the Fire Warriors moved towards the Apothecary.

In the shooting phase, the Fire Warriors fired at the Apothecary. His luck had run out and he finally succumbed to the enemy firepower. The Tetras targeted the Dark Talon, once again managing to get two markerlight hits despite snap firing. The Commander's squad used the markerlights to increase their ballistic skill and managed to take two hull points damage off the flyer.

The Riptide fired at the grav bike unit, managing to kill one of the warriors. The Riptide then took a wound when trying to overcharge its shields.

Turn 4- Ravenwing.

The Dark Talon left the airspace, moving round for another pass at the Tau. The rest of the bikers moved towards the objectives, trying to distance themselves from the Tau firepower.

That ended a very short turn for the Ravenwing.

Turn 4- Tau.

The Tau began to advance on the objectives- the Riptide moving to cover one nearby, the Tetra and Fire Warriors moving towards the middle of the board and the Commander leading his unit towards the enemy deployment zone.

The Tetra managed to hit the plasma bike squad with its markerlights. Using them to ignore their Jink saves, the Riptide then wiped out the unit with its main gun.

The endgame was upon us. Both sides had suffered heavy losses and now it became a game of manoeuvring and claiming objectives.

Turn 5- Ravenwing.

The Dark Talon came back to the table, moving to target the Tau commander. It fired its Rift Cannon at the squad, once again scattering off and only killing one of the crisis suits. The hurricane bolters managed to take a wound off of the commander.

The rest of the Ravenwing units were out of sight or firing range of the enemy.

Turn 5- Tau.

The Fire Warriors continued their advance on the centre objective, while the Tetra moved up to engage another objective, moving flat out in the shooting phase to contest it from the Ravenwing Landspeeder. The Fire Warriors ran and managed to get within range of the centre objective.

The Commander's unit fired at the Dark Talon, but was unable to hit the flyer. The Riptide fired at the meltagun biker unit, killing one of the Jinking bikers.

At the end of turn 5, the Tau controlled 3 objectives, the Ravenwing controlled two and one was contested. We rolled to see if the game would continue and it did.

Turn 6- Ravenwing.

If I had any chance of winning the game, I needed to clear the Tau off of some of the objectives. I moved the remains of the grav gun squad up towards the Tetra, the meltagun squad moving to take over their objective. The Dark Talon left the airspace (I should have gone in to hover mode in an attempt to take out the Tau Commander and clear that objective, but I was crossing my fingers for another turn).

The Librarian manifested Mind Worm on the Tetra, but failed to hit with the power.

In the shooting phase, the Landspeeder fired at the Tetra. The multimelta failed to hit and the Typhoon caused one glancing hit. The bike squad did not fire at the tetra (I needed to assault to get in range of the objective).

In the assault phase, the bike squad launched their assault on the Tetra. I rolled my assault dice and they came up double 1! No assault for me. As a result, the Tetra would claim the objective for the Tau.

Turn 6- Tau.

The Tau consolidated their position on the objectives and turned their guns on the Ravenwing survivors.

The Fire Warriors fired at the last speeder from the support squadron, but their two glancing hits and penetrating hits were saved by Jinking.

The Riptide attempted to Nova charge its main gun, but failed and took a wound.

Rolling for the game, the die came up a three and the game ended. The Tau controlled four objectives to the Ravenwing's two. We looked to see what the objective scores were:

RAVENWING: 3+2+First Blood and Linebreaker = 7 VP
TAU: 4+3+2+1+Linebreaker and Slay the Warlord= 12 VP

A win for the Tau! Shaun rolled and managed to capture his campaign tile too.

That was some game. Thanks to Shaun for an entertaining and challenging game, my luck was rocketing back and forth between good and bad all game.

I think the choice to go first was the right decision. Had I gone second, I would have been better deployed to deal with the Tau. I would have focused most of my army on the left hand side to take on the Riptides, helped by the Grav guns and meltaguns, in addition to the Librarian helping out with Mind Worm and Aversion to stop them shooting. However, I think the Tau first turn would have been even more brutal if I had not curbed some of the firepower and I don't think I would have recovered from it.

There were a couple of mistakes in the first turn that I don't think were really my fault. I should have targeted the Riptide with the flamer templates as I think it did a lot more damage in the Tau first turn than the Riptide I destroyed could have done. I didn't target this as I was unaware of what the weapons could do or that they could be overcharged to fire twice. The second error was not focusing on destroying all of the Tetras. Markerlights are the bane of Biker armies and I should have made sure that they were taken out. I think I was unlucky with this as my heavy bolter shots did not cause a single glance or pen out of 5 hits (only needing 5's, I should have got one or two). I think I was also unlucky to lose so many of the command squad. I did not make a single Feel no Pain or Invulnerable save when they were targeted by the Riptide.

This bad luck was more than made up for by the Apothecary. He was crucial in the Tau first turn and Ravenwing second turn, taking an amazing amount of firepower and shrugging it off. He did not manage to survive the battle (that would have been great!) as Shaun was determined to take him out.

I think I also got unlucky with the Dark Talon's rift cannon. The two times I fired it, it scattered off of the four crisis suits to hit two of them. Of the four hits I caused over the course of the game, I managed to roll two 1's to wound. As the cannon was strength 10, it was instant killing the suits. Had I been a little luckier with my rolls, I would have been able to wipe out the Commander and his squad.

Another poor piece of luck was losing three of my bikers when the Skyray exploded. Statistically, I should have lost either no bikers or just one bikers, not three!

I think I was also a bit unlucky to roll a double 1 for the final assault. I only needed about a 4" charge to get the Tetra and probably would have taken it out with my krak grenades or two meltabombs. This would have given me the objective. I don't think I would have won, but it may have lessened the margin of defeat.

Shaun had some great luck in the game too. I was amazed (and annoyed) how he kept making snap shots with the markerlights. I thought that forcing him to Jink would weaken them, but he just kept rolling 6's and stripping me of my cover saves.

This was really a game of extremes. My luck was either amazing (with the almost unkillable Apothecary, the Librarian never periling and some great wounds on the Riptides) or terrible (as detailed above), but it was certainly a lot of fun.

"My plan for this game was to concentrate all my firepower on one side of the board and work my way across it killing off the biggest threats to me each turn. I was hoping to get the first turn to get maximum firepower before Mike hit my lines and I would be in trouble. I lost the initiative, which originally had me worried, but in the end benefited me slightly as it allowed me to concentrate my forces mostly on one side of the board and avoid some of his units for more turns.

I really enjoyed this game as it really did go down to the last turns that would decide who wins and who loses and had it gone on for one more turn, I surely would have lost. It was also very entertaining with the Apothecary that would not die until he was almost out of range. The re-rollable Jink save is something I underestimated and it cost me a few times when I forgot to negate it with markerlights. There is a lot I have learnt from this game. First is that the XV9's are not a good choice against Space Marines as they cost me 240 pts and didn't cause a single wound. I will have to get my other XV8's built up. Another silly mistake I made was not finishing my list as those 15 pts could have got me the early warning system on my crisis suits."

Thanks again to Shaun for a great game and for his comments afterwards. I feel a bit more confident about the Tau now. If I can take out the markerlights quickly, I may stand a good chance against them.


  1. Played against rave wing last night! They are nigh near unkillable with that jink re-roll! I ended up winning but when they all scouted towards me it was very worrying!

    1. An entire scouting army does tend to freak out your opponent, it's just a pity I can't put some units in reserve.

      I occasionally feel bad for my opponent on the jink saves. Re-rollable 3+ and 2+ saves must be so disheartening to play against.

  2. Looks like it was a hard fought and good game. That said, a couple of rules questions/points:
    -Do you guys House-Rule The Scouring? Normally you flip the Objectives right after Deployment, just before rolling to Seize.
    - Tau Battlesuits are immune to Blind because of their Blacksun Filters.

    1. I wasn't aware of that for the Scouring, guess I need to read the rules more carefully. I kind of like my way of doing it, it adds some uncertainty to the game as you don't know how valuable your objective will be.

      I was unaware of the battlesuit issue (I don't play Tau or have them as a regular opponent). I don't think it had too much effect on the game as the only time he fired when blind was at my flyer, so he would have been snap shooting anyway.