Episode 48: Sometimes You Get Got (Tau vs. Raven Guard 2000 Points)

Another day, another game. I'm happy to be getting back into my more regular rotation of 2-3 games a week, that probably seems like a lot to some people but I'm fortunate to live close to three very active stores and in a good meta. Also I pretty much just have the one hobby. :P

This time I was against someone I'd never played before, Matthew, and his Raven Guard. I get the impression Matthew was still getting into 8th Edition, although I didn't know what when we were setting up the game and he seemed receptive to me bringing a competitive list. To that end I grabbed my Tau as they haven't been taken out for a bit and I didn't want to bring the proxy heavy Ork list I've been testing into a game with someone unfamiliar to me.

I have made some revisions to the Tau list and this is the full competitive version that I'm likely to take out at whatever the next event I go to is. Unfortunately that might not be for awhile since the only thing I know of is a two day GT coming up that I can't make due to work. Apparently there will be a store re-opening event in October so I have have my eyes set on that.

Tau
Commander w/ 4x Fusion Blaster (Warlord w/ +1 Attack on the Charge)
2 Shield Drones

Commander w/ 3x Cyclic Ion Blasters and Advanced Targeting System
2 Shield Drones

Commander w/ 3x Cyclic Ion Blasters and Advanced Targeting System
2 Shield Drones

Commander w/ 3x Cyclic Ion Blasters and Advanced Targeting System
2 Shield Drones

Commander w/ 3x Cyclic Ion Blasters and Advanced Targeting System
2 Shield Drones

Commander w/ 3x Cyclic Ion Blasters and Advanced Targeting System
2 Shield Drones

Commander w/ 3x Cyclic Ion Blasters and Advanced Targeting System
2 Shield Drones

Commander w/ 3x Cyclic Ion Blasters and Advanced Targeting System
2 Shield Drones

Commander w/ 3x Cyclic Ion Blasters and Advanced Targeting System
2 Shield Drones

Commander w/ 3x Cyclic Ion Blasters and Advanced Targeting System
2 Shield Drones

Cadre Fireblade
2 Gun Drones

Cadre Fireblade
2 Gun Drones

5 Firewarriors w/ Markerlight
1 Gun Drone

5 Firewarriors w/ Markerlight
2 Gun Drone

5 Firewarriors w/ Markerlight
2 Gun Drone

5 Firewarriors w/ Markerlight
2 Gun Drone

5 Firewarriors w/ Markerlight
2 Gun Drone

4 Kroot Hounds

4 Kroot Hounds

4 Kroot Hounds


Raven Guard
Captain w/ Bolter (Warlord w/ +1 Wound and 6+ FNP)

Lieutenant w/ Bolter

Techmarine w/ Boltgun
Techmarine w/ Boltgun

3 Centurion Assault Marines w/ Hurricane Bolters

4 Company Veterans w/ 3 Plasma Guns (Sergeant w/ Combi-Plasma)
4 Company Veterans w/ 3 Plasma Guns (Sergeant w/ Combi-Plasma)
4 Company Veterans w/ 3 Plasma Guns (Sergeant w/ Combi-Plasma)

5 Scouts w/ Bolt Pistols and Combat Blades (Sergeant w/ Power Axe)

5 Scouts w/ Bolters

5 Scouts w/ Shotguns

5 Scouts w/ Camo-Cloaks and Sniper Rifles
5 Scouts w/ Camo-Cloaks and Sniper Rifles
5 Scouts w/ Camo-Cloaks and Sniper Rifles

Razorback w/ Twin Lascannon
Razorback w/ Twin Lascannon
Razorback w/ Twin Lascannon

5 Devastators w/ 4 Missile Launchers
5 Devastators w/ 4 Missile Launchers
5 Devastators w/ 4 Missile Launchers


Scenario & Deployment
Secure & Control (ITC Variant) | Spearhead Assault








In general Spearhead Assault isn't so great for my Tau build since it puts a lot of distance between where the Commanders want to be and where the rest of my army is. This means I have to split the Commanders to bail out my Fire Warriors and Cadres if an opponent brings the heat and then I can have some downtime getting back into position.

Matthew is running a pretty unorthodox Raven Guard list and has some things that are quite good against me. Scouts are monsters against Deep Strike, which is my whole army, and he has a lot of Missile Launchers which are great against me since they can do Frag into Shield Drones and then Krak into the Commanders. On the other hand Devastators are fragile and static, the Raven Guard also don't have much in the way of Bolters to chew through my Drones which means more powerful guns will have to do the job.

Each Honor Guard unit went into a Razorback and these spread out a bit, a Techmarine on each flank. Matthew created a firebase on the left flank with all the Devs and the buff Characters while I was mostly just hiding my army as best I could. We did not use the ITC Ruins rule this game, since Matthew was new to the ITC Missions I didn't want to throw too much at him. He also used the Raven Guard Strategem to Deep Strike the Assault Centurions, however we played this incorrectly and did not put them on the field prior to the First Turn. This actually would have massively benefited Matthew but I didn't know the Strategem wording so I thought it was just Deep Strike as he said. Oh well.

I lost the roll to go first, as is tradition, and failed to Seize. Looking at the board I had few landing zones but I didn't want to start measuring and tip Matthew off. Instead I'll just have to see what's available and maybe shoot some of the Scouts off with my army and a few Commanders.


Raven Guard Turn 1

Movement Phase
Objectives for the Turn are Hold Objectives 1 & 2, both of which Matthew has Scout units on.

Very little moves as Matthew is trying to keep me out of Deep Strike and also doesn't want to come barreling at me with his mostly shooting army. The Scouts with Bolt Pistols move up to secure an Objective closer to my side of the board and the Assault Centurions come on in my backfield. Again this was a misplay on our part and it would have been better for Matthew to use the Strategem as intended since he could then move and use the Flamers he had, as well as Charge more easily.

Psychic & Shooting Phase
As I did a good job of hiding my models shooting is pretty minimal. I lose 2 Gun Drones to Missile Launchers and the Assault Centurions drop an entire Fire Warrior unit with the Hurricane Bolters. Again, I should have lost at least 3 units from Flamers and a followup Charge.

Charge, Fight, & Morale Phase
Matthew declined to try a Charge, needing about 10", although I think a try was worth it as I have very little chance of messing with T5, 2+ Save during Overwatch and the rewards are pretty big. But with nothing else we go over to me.






Tau Turn 1

Movement Phase
Objectives for the Turn are Destroy a Unit and have 3 Friendly Units in my Deployment Zone along with no enemies.

Most of my army moves as I want to drop the Scouts on my left flank, they're an easy target and an obvious unit to remove for getting models out of my Deployment Zone. It's then time to bring the Commanders in and I drop 3 in my backfield with the left on the left flank in two clumps. I do make a positional mistake by putting the Fusion Commander forward without Drones, I should have been more careful with my measurements and used the Drones to screen more.

Two units of Kroot Hounds on the right are also eyeing the Scouts there, if I can clear them out and make Matthew commit a little more over to that side then that's a win for me.

Psychic & Shooting Phase
Starting in the back I put a Markerlight on the Centurions and Scouts since those are close by, the 36" on Markerlights is definitely a problem right now. My backline Commanders all Overcharge into the Centurions but only kill 2 as I roll pretty badly for wounding. I then shift gears to the Scouts and kill them with the Gun Drones and one Fire Warrior unit. My last shots on the left go into the Centurions and manage to kill the last as Matthew rolls three 1's on five Armor Saves.

Closer to the front lines I put the Fusion into the Razorback but only do 7 Damage even with a re-roll. I then kill two of three Devastator Squads as I continue rolling very bad wounds, usually on the low end I'd kill some of the third unit with good odds at claiming all three. This leaves me a bit exposed due to my bad positioning and Matthew still having the required bodies to punch through Drones and then use the Plasma/Lascannons to good effect.

I only manage to kill 1 Scout on the right flank thanks to the Raven Guard Tactic and continued poor dice from me.

Charge, Fight, & Morale Phase
One Commander goes for a Charge on the close Sniper Scouts, needing 10", but fails and loses a Wound for his trouble to Overwatch. Both Kroot Hound units get into the Scouts but I fail to kill any and Matthew uses Counter-Attack, killing 4, and my other unit also fails to do anything. I lose nothing from Morale.








Raven Guard Turn 2

Movement Phase
Having easily achieved his Objectives Matthew goes up 2-0 and rolls Hold Objective 1 and have 3 Friendly and No Enemy Units in his Deployment Zone. The only other option was getting into my Deployment Zone which is no longer possible.

The Scouts in Combat Fall Back and the Veterans on the left disembark, a few models on the left also shift to let the Captain and Lieutenant get in range of the Veterans after their move. Meanwhile the Techmarine goes to repair the Razorback.

On the right the Razorback Advances and pops smoke, something I have not seen done in this edition before this game. The Bolter Scouts move up to help their brethren but all the Snipers hold positions.

Psychic & Shooting Phase
Matthew makes some sequencing/decision errors here. First the Missile Launchers shoot Frag into my Fusion Commander, Matthew reasoning it will be more difficult for me to shunt wounds this way. However this ends up doing 1 Wound which I just take. He then starts shooting the Drones and kill 2 with Snipers before moving onto the Plasma which is not Overcharged. This does 5 Wounds which I eat 2 of and put 3 onto Drones, losing all three.

Lascannons from the left Razorback also go into the Fusion Commander but I shunt to my last Drone within range who lives. The center Razorback shoots into Drones, doing nothing, and finally some miscellaneous Bolters try to finish off the Commander but leave him with 1 Wound.

I also lose 2 Kroot Hounds on the right from Bolters but that flank is pretty much just a distraction at this point so I can draw things in for the Commanders to kill as they move up the board.

Charge, Fight, & Morale Phase
A Charge from the Veterans gets into the Fusion Commander and another of his ilk but I manage to kill one model in Overwatch. The Bolter Scouts also get into my Kroot Hounds, which Matthew starts with and kills all but two.

I Counter-Attack with the Fusion Commander but do nothing, however I also take no damage as I make the one Armor Save inflicted. I then whiff my other Commander's Attacks from Heroic Intervention. Finally one Kroot Hound runs.








Tau Turn 2

Movement Phase
Since I also achieved my Objectives the score is now 2-2, I roll Destroy a Unit and hold Objective 2 which is near my lines on the left flank and in perfect position for the last Kroot Hound unit to go grab, although they will be exposed.

I start by having the Hounds do just that and then Fall Back from Combat deeper into the Raven Guard lines. My other Commanders all Advance with their Drones but are out of range of any targets. The rest of my army continues moving forward to bait Charges or get into Rapid Fire range. I move one Commander up a ruins to tie up a Sniper Scout unit later. My last Kroot Hound on the right Falls Back as well.

Psychic & Shooting Phase
Shooting starts with two Fusion shots into the Lieutenant and Razorback which kills the former but fails to wound the latter. I finish off the Devastators and just manage to kill the Captain along with the remaining Veterans, I'm still rolling poorly to wound and lack of Markerlights has me a bit gun shy on Overcharging. On the right I kill one Scout, again I'm still eating the -1 to Hit and Matthew is making his Armor Saves very well.

Charge, Fight, & Morale Phase
I charge one Commander into the Razorback and Techmarine, losing a Drone to the Lascannon Overwatch. My split off Commander also Charges the Scouts and take no damage.

In Combat I kill two Scouts and don't take any damage in return as the Techmarine whiffs his Powerfist attack.









At this point Matthew concedes the game which I accept. It feels a bit premature in some ways but he has very little left and one Veteran unit is out of position. As is there's only two Sniper units available to strip Drones, which they do poorly, otherwise I'm going to absorb the shooting and then finish off two Razorbacks and another Veteran unit. The Razorback on the right also has to back up or the three Commanders there will eat it and if it does so the Scouts die and flank collapses which means Maelstrom is gone.

Victory for the Tau!


Post Game Thoughts

So this is a textbook example of a learning game and I talked about it at length with Matthew afterward. While his list is not optimized yet he did have the tools to make things hard on me, Scouts are maybe the best unit in the game at Deep Strike denial and he had so many of them.

What should have happened is the Scouts should have built a shield mid-field where I cannot Deep Strike behind them, this is extremely easy to do on the deployment we used and Matthew should have also employed a bunker deployment. There's no benefit to spreading out against me except I can't catch the Razorbacks easily, however their output is minimal when on the move with no Auras and they also had Veterans which need to do some damage.

If done correctly this would have forced me to attack the Scouts first and then eat a round of shooting. I think my army could have absorbed that although the Missile Launchers make things interesting. There's also a possibility of pushing me way back into my own territory because of all the Scouts and the narrow board but I'd have to lay that out before I can say how well it works.

Matthew also made some serious shooting errors on Turn 2 that cost him. When playing against Tau with a lot of Battle Suits / Commanders you have to strip the Drones away with light shooting and then put the big guns into the Suits. This is why I will typically target anti-Infantry guns with my Commanders, they're usually easy to kill and it keeps my Drones around which is a requirement of the list. In this case I went for the Missile Launchers since sending 1-2 Frags into a pair of Shield Drones is decent odds to kill them, although there's a lot of variability in there.

On my side of things I made a serious positional error with the Drones and the Fusion Commander for no benefit, it was just a straight misplay. I also had trouble getting any work out of my non-Commanders although a lot of that was because of the Deployment and not using the ITC Ruin rules as this forced me back way further. In reality I should have lost nearly everything to the Assault Centurions since getting them in my backfield is just a nightmare. If that had happened I would have just abandoned my Deployment Zone and went for full attrition since some of the Scout units and the Centurions would play zero further role in the game.

Matthew did ask for some recommendations for improving the army so here are my thoughts. Scouts work best as cheap bodies so giving them Bolters or Shotguns is the most they should get. The math on Sniper Rifles just isn't good unless you have volume or buffs but if the Scouts go back with the army then the list is too static and one-dimensional. Instead I'd go down to three units and keep them bare bones, this way they can block Deep Strike, grab Objectives, and run interference as needed.

Originally I thought Assault Centurions were crap with the Raven Guard Strategem but then after I read the real wording they're amazing with it. Going second is a problem but you get that information before you put them down. Company Veterans are cute and seem quite good, not sure why I don't see more of those since Special Weapons are all that matters right now. That being said Razorbacks want to stay back and aren't hard to pop which is why you usually see 5 Man Tactical Squads and I think that's a better way to go here. It saves the points and makes up the Troop slots for two Battalions while providing some throwaway guys for the enemy to handle. Also the Razorbacks want Assault Cannons.

Finally upgrading to a Chapter Master seems very good for this list since it has so much long-range shooting and is pretty static. The Tech Marines can go since repair isn't as good as it looks on paper and they don't contribute much. Instead the list could use a melee unit or something fast, whatever that is comes down to the points but even with all the Deep Strike/Scouts it can be hard to take and cover ground once the game begins.

While the game was very one-sided I think a lot more could have been done to keep it competitive and I hope I was able to illustrate that. Against Commander Spam you really have to leverage your chaff to keep the Beta Strike at bay, that's one of the reasons I like ITC Missions since if you do this it comes at a cost, as it should.

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