Sunday, 2 October 2016

Damocles Gulf Crusade Battle 1


While the Tau Empire's Third Sphere of Expansion has proceeded fairly smoothly until now, the full attention of the Imperium, or at least the Eastern sectors, has been directed at the worlds lost as the Tau crossed over the Damocles Gulf. The time for retribution is at hand.

Mission Source: Cities of Death
Mission: Firesweep, modified for 7th edition (First Blood, Slay the Warlord, Linebreaker)
Points: 2000
Armies: Emperor's Shields Sternhammer Detachment / Tau Empire Hunter Contingent

Emperor's Shields (Imperial Fists Successor Chapter)

Sternhammer Demi-Company [CORE]
Captain Vym Fervour w/ Artificer Armour, Combi-melta, Power Axe, Melta Bombs
     Digital Weapons
Assault Marines Squad w/ 2 Flamers, Sgt w/ Power Sword
Devastator Squad w/ 4 Plasma Cannons
Dreadnought Squadron (3) w/ Assault Cannon, Heavy Flamer, Power fist
Tactical Squad 1, Flamer, Missile Launcher, Sgt w/ Power fist
Tactical Squad 2, Flamer, Missile Launcher, Sgt w/ Power fist
Tactical Squad 3, Flamer, Missile Launcher, Sgt w/ Power fist

1st Company Task Force [AUX]
Vanguard Veterans, Sgt w. Melta Bombs
Sternguard 1
Sternguard 2

Hunter Contingent T'olku

Hunter Cadre [CORE]
Commander Shas'O T'olku Xo'mor XV8 w/ 2 Plasma Rifles, Iridium Armour, System Jammer, Onager Gauntlet
XV104 Riptide w/ Ion Accelerator, Twin Fusion Blaster
Pathfinder Team w/ 2 Ion Rifles
4 Piranha Shoal w/ Fusion Blasters, Seeker Missiles
Ion Hammerhead w/ Smart Missile System, Longstrike
Strike Team 1, Devilfish
Strike Team 2, Devilfish
Strike Team 3, Devilfish

Armoured Interdiction Cadre [AUX]
Railgun Hammerhead w/ Smart Missile System
Railgun Hammerhead w/ Smart Missile System
Railgun Hammerhead w/ Smart Missile System


In Firesweep, it's all about claiming the buildings, as with most missions in Cities of Death. So each building is worth 1 point, and First Blood, Warlord and Linebreaker are all worth 1 point each. There are 14 buildings on the table, so lots of points are available. Also, we use a model lying on its side, to represent a unit that is Embarked in a building.

Tau win the roll off and elect to deploy first, and go first. They deploy deep enough in their quarter to deny an early charge, and deploy a line of armoured vehicles. The three Strike Teams each start in a building. 
Mech Tau prepare to defend their city.
The Pathfinders Infiltrate into another in the corner.
Pathfinders on their own off in the corner.

At the start of the game the Tau have 4 points to build on.

The Emperor's Shields, an almost all infantry force, take up positions either claiming buildings, or in position to claim them quickly. They have a meager few anti-tank weapons, and position them in the back, with the assault elements up front. The Marines also have 4 buildings from which to launch their offensive. The echelon of armoured fighting vehicles would be intimidating, if they weren't Marines. Forward!
Utilizing the available Cover to the best of their ability, the Marines prepare to advance.

The Marines try to Seize the Initiative, but fail to do so. There is Night Fight, so the Tau charge up their weapon systems in the gloomy pre-dawn light, and the battle begins!

Turn 1 Tau

The Tau plan, as usual, is to thin the enemy at range through the application of firepower before advancing and claiming more buildings. The Piranhas move to the right flank to counter the speed of the Assault Marines.

The Piranha Shoal scouts out the next street.

Having cleared the building, Strike Team 1 takes up position on the roof.

Preparing to embark and advance after clearing their assigned building is Strike Team 2.

Strike Team 3 moves to the roof after clearing their building.

The Pathfinders clear yet another building and move to the roof.

Longstrike surveys the cityscape and picks out a target.
The three Strike Teams all started the game deployed inside buildings. Strike Teams 1 and 3 cleared their respective buildings, they disembarked onto the roof. Strike Team 2 disembarked into the street, and ran toward their waiting Devilfish (DF2), ready to embark and advance next turn.

The Pathfinders also started in the building in the corner which they Infiltrated into, and moved onto the roof ready to provide Markerlight support to the mechanized advance.

The Piranha Team moves toward the left flank, ready to match speed with speed aith the Assault Marines.

The Armoured Interdiction Cadre (AIC) targets Dread 2 for its' Interlaced Predictive Targeting (IPT) [Re-roll To Hit rolls within 6"].

Hammerhead 1 scores a Glance with a Railgun shot on Dread 3, and a Seeker Missile finds a weak spot, stunning it for two Hull Points lost.

Hammerhead 2 scores a Glancing Railgun hit, and one of the two Seekers it fired scores a hit, ripping off the Powerfist/Heavy Flamer arm, and two Hull Points.

Hammerhead 3 follows suit, and rips the Powerfist/Heavy Flamer off Dread 1 with a solid strike from the Railgun, for a Hull Point. The Seeker Missiles were ineffective.

The Skyray focuses its' Networked Markerlights on Dread 2, and two Seeker Missiles streak from its rack. One missile ricochets harmlessly, but the other punches through the armour, wrecking it by stripping its last Hull Point.

Longstrike, peering through his electro-binos, watches as Dread 3 tries to make it across the street while under a hail of anti-tank weaponry. Seeing the monstrosity still advancing he Overcharges his Ion Cannon and sends a searing ball of plasma at the machine, catching two members of Vanguard Veterans in the blast as well, one of the the Captain. He manages to duck behind the wall at the last second, and the blast that was meant for him cuts one of the Veterans in half, as well as scorching Dread 3, taking its last Hull Point, wrecking it.

The Riptide levels his Ion Accelerator at the last remaining Dread, but can't find a weak spot.

The Commander takes two long range shots at Dread 1 with his two Plasma Rifles, and manages to score a Glance, leaving one Hull Point left.

The Piranhas Flat Out 18" to cover the street.

The Pathfinders Run 5" off the rooftop and into the street, as they realize their Markerlights are way out of range.

Strike Team 3 tries to Run (2"), but they can't make it off the roof.

Riptide and Commander both Thrust Move out of Assault Range, and the Commander moves out of line of sight.

Tau: 4 buildings, First Blood
Marines: 0 buildings

Turn 1 Marines

The Marines begin their advance, as dictated by the Codex Astartes.

Almost into cover...

Sternguard 1 find the Riptide beyond their Hellfire ammo range.

Long range Missile Launcher shots into a target rich environment.

The Riptide pilot watches as 4 Plasma Cannons are brought to bear on him.

Four Plasma Cannon hits, and only 1 wound. At least they didn't Get Hot!

The infantry advance, making the best use of Cover they can.
Dread 1 moves 6", trying to get some cover between him and the Railguns.

Assault Marines Jump 12" across the road.

Tac 1b and Tac 2b secure their buildings, and move onto their respective roofs.

Vanguard Veterans spread out in their courtyard, but hold their position.

Sternguard 1 take cover behind them along the wall.

Sternguard 2 advance down the street and take up positions to provide interlocking fields of fire, though no targets are in range yet.

Tac 1a, 2a, and 3a all clear their buildings, exit, and advance toward new buildings to clear and claim.

Assault Marines Run 2" into the courtyard.

Dread 1 unleashes a fusilade from his Assault Cannon at the Piranhas, who do not Jink. He Shakes one as alarms blare and sparks fly from the damaged Skimmer.

The Devs turn their Plasma Cannons on the Riptide, hitting it 4 times but only wounding once, the searing bolts of plasma seeming to dissipate right before they strike home.

Tac 1a, 2a and 3a all Run (6", 1", 2") towards their respective target buildings.

Sternguard 2 Runs 3" to get in better positions.

Tac 1b Snap fires his Missile Launcher at Hammerhead 1, but fails to hit.

Tac 3b fires his Missile Launcher at the Riptide, but the streaking missile bounces harmlessly into the sky.

Tau: 4 buildings, First Blood
Marines: 4 buildings

Turn 2 Tau

Having reduced the Dread threat, the line of armour prepares to engage Heavy Infantry.

The Tau push up the street, guns blazing and missiles a-seeking.

The Assault Marines are confident in the safety of the courtyard.

The Sergeant stands amidst the gore and ruin that used to be his squad. 
Strike Team 1 moves 6" (Difficult Terrain) off the roof.

Strike Team 2 embarks into Devilfish 2. Devilfish 2 moves 12" toward another building across the street.

Strike Team 3 Difficult Terrain their way 5" off the roof, and embark in Devilfish 3, which then moves 6" towards the Assault Marines.

Piranhas glide up the street to engage the Assault Marines.

XV8 Commander moves toward Dread 1.

AIC picks the wall between the Vanguard Veterans and Sternguard 1 as the IPT point.

Riptide, Longstrike, and the Skyray group up.
Skyray Markerlights Vanguard Veterans, and grants Ignores Cover to the rest of his "Group".
Longstrike Overcharges his Ion Cannon, and kills 6, and wounds the Captain twice.
Riptide Overcharges his Ion Accelerator and scatters 10", missing everything in the area.

Hammerhead 1, 2 and 3 Group up. They all target Vanguard Veterans with Railgun Submunitions and Smart Missile Systems. BS5 and rerolling to hit kills 4 more from Sternguard 1, and 1 more from the Veterans.

The Pathfinders Overcharge their Ion Rifles, and fire at Dread 1, getting 1 Glance, which gets through the Cover, and Wrecks the mighty machine!!

The Piranhas, XV8 Commander, and Devilfish 3 Group up. They unload 12 Burst Cannon shots, 16 Twin Linked Pulse Rifle shots, and 8 Seeker Missiles into the Assault Marines. Despite Going to Ground, 9 Assault Marines are driven to the ground from the impacts, never to rise again. The lone surviving Sergeant, standing amid the ruin of his squad, bellows his vow of vengeance!

Strike Team 1 targets Tac 1a, killing 3. Devilfish 1 also targets Tac 1a, killing another one. The lone Sergeant passes his Leadership, and is determined to kill something, anything. For the Emperor!

The Riptide Thrusts 7" back to the AIC, not quite getting out of assault range, but close enough.

The XV8 Commander Thrusts 3" into the courtyard, trying to avoid Missile Launcher fire.

Tau: 4 buildings, First Blood
Marines: 4 buildings

Turn 2 Marines

Apparently, the images for  Marines Turn 2 were garbled beyond repair during transmission. But we do have notes...

The Sergeant of Tac 1a embarked into it, clearing it on his own.

Everything else basically moved forward, trying to overwhelm the Tau with targets, and hoping something would make it through the barrage that was incoming.

The lone surviving Assault Marine Sergeant fires his pistol at the Commander, but the shell deflects off the Iridium armour.

Tac 1b fires its Missile Launcher at the Piranhas, and the shell punches through the flimsy craft, put stays in the air, down 1 Hull Point, though it is Shaken.

Tac3b also launches a Missile at the Piranhas, but it misses.

The Assault Marine Sergeant hurls himself at the XV8 Commander, hurling curses as he readies his power sword, but is cut down by the Supporting Fire Overwatch from the Pathfinders behind the Commander before he can do anything.

Tau: 4 buildings, First Blood
Marines: 5 buildings

Turn 3 Tau

The Ion Accelerator whines as it builds to Overcharge...

...and sends most of the Vanguard Veterans to meet their ancestors.

The pincers of the Tau attack start to pressure the remaining Marines.

Strike Team 1 embarks into Devilfish 1 and moves across the street to clear another building.

Riptide moves 6" closer to the Vanguard Veterans.

Longstrike skims up to hover over the roof, and doesn't hit anything on the way.

The Piranhas advance 6" down the street, as they start thinking about securing Linebreaker.

Devilfish 2 moves 6" toward one of the small buildings in the center, Strike Team 2 disembarks 6" toward it, preparing to clear it next turn.

And XV8, Strike Team 3 and the Pathfinders all advance 6",

Hammerheads 1, 2 and 3 Group up and target the Vanguard Veterans, but despite 3 Submunition shots and 12 SMS shots, none of the Veterans fall.

Devilfish 1, on the left, targets Tac 3a trying to make their way to the corner building, and drops three. That is enough for them to fall back and try to regroup in the face of Tau firepower.

The Riptide Overcharges his Ion Accelerator, and kills 6 Vanguard Veterans, and the Captain. But even the loss of their leader isn't enough to drive the Veterans off, due to Fearless from the 1st Company Task Force. They will have Tau blood!

The Piranhas, XV8 Commander and Devilfish 3 Group up, and target the survivors of Sternguard 1.
2 Fusion Blaster and 8 Pulse Carbine wounds later, Sternguard 1 is a tangle of broken armour lying in the street.

Longstrike Overcharges his Ion Cannon, and brings it to bear on Sternguard 2, but his shot scatters badly, and their armour proves sufficient to ward off Smart Missiles.

The Riptide Thrusts 9" into the courtyard in the center of the table, within easy reach of the two survivors of the Vanguard Veterans, daring them to try.

The Commander Thrusts 8" back into cover behind the building, ever wary of random missiles and such.

Tau: 4 buildings, First Blood, Warlord
Marines: 5 buildings

Turn 3 Marines

With their ranks thinned by brutal firepower, the Marines focus on trying to claim more buildings.

The Vanguard Veterans aim to ensure the Riptide is too busy  defending itself to fire.

But they can't survive the Overwatch, one dying to Ion Accelerator, and the other to the Fusion Blaster.

The Sergeant from Tac 1a will have Vengeance!

Powerfists make pretty good can openers.

Tac 2a is almost there, almost there!! Why can't you embark during the Shooting phase?

Tac 3a ready to clear the building next turn.

Sternguard 2 finally within range of the Riptide.

Tac 2a and 3a both keep moving toward their target buildings, which could win them the battle, but it is hard to not be able to fight back against the enemy!

Tac 1a(Sergeant) exits the cleared and claimed building in the center of the table, and leaps over the wall with a 6" Difficult Terrain roll, making straight for Devilfish 1.

The two survivors of Vanguard Veterans rev their chainswords as they start charging at the XV104 determined to at least keep it busy and from slaughtering their brethren.

Tac 1b, 2b and 3b all launch Missiles at the Piranhas, but this time they Jink, and none of the Missiles hit the agile craft.

Sternguard 2 unloads a long range barrage of Hellfire rounds into the Riptide and wound it 5 times, but the armour turns away the rounds with ease.

The Vanguard Veterans fire their Bolt Pistols on the way toward the Riptide, but their shells can't hurt the giant suit.

The Vanguard Veterans declare their charge as they start to sprint toward the XV104, and promptly get vaporized by the heavy fire power it carries.

The Sergeant of Tac 1a makes an 8" charge into Devilfish 1, his Powerfist hitting twice, smashing through the armour twice and getting Exploded! twice on the Damage Table!! He survives the explosion, but two Fire Warriors perish in the blazing inferno as the rest of Strike Team 1 pile out of the rubble. They fail their Ld, so are pinned!

Tau: 4 buildings, First Blood, Warlord
Marines: 5 buildings

Turn 4 Tau

Knowing that even one Marine is a deadly foe...

...the Pinned Team make sure the threat is no more.

The Ion Accelerator gets Overcharged again and again.

Piranhas lead the way as the Tau push deep into Marine territory.

The mech firing line fire volley after volley, thinning the enemy.

At the end of their turn, the Tau are feeling good about the battle so far.
The XV104 tries to Nova charge to allow a 4d6 Thrust move to be able to move deep into the corner near Tac 2a, but fails his Nova test and suffers a wound. He then just moves 6" forward.

The Piranhas move 12" and then Flat Out another 18", moving into the intersection to disrupt the Marine advance.

Strike Team 2 hops over the wall 5" and Runs 3", ending right outside the building they are to clear next turn.

Devilfish 3 moves 12" and Flat Outs another 6" as they move toward a Marine claimed building.

Devilfish 2 moves 12" and Flat Outs another 6", following the Piranhas and Devilfish 3 towards the Marine deployment zone.

The Pathfinders keep trying to make it to the next building that they can clear. Hopefully they can claim it next turn.

The Pinned Strike Team gun down the Sergeant from Tac 1a, opening their way to the building that Tac 2a is planning to clear.

Longstrike uses his Smart Missile System to engage Tac 2a behind the building, manages to kill one but the sole Sergeant holds his ground.

The three Hammerheads barrage the Devastators with Submunition blasts and SMS volleys, killing 3, and the survivors fall back 8" after failing their Leadership with their Sergeant dead.

The Skyray only gets one Markerlight hit on Sternguard 2, which the XV104 uses to increase his BS by 1, and then Overcharges his Ion Accelerator again, killing two after Cover saves.

The XV8 Commander Thrusts 6", landing outside the door to a building, ready to claim it next turn.

The Riptide's heavy footfalls shake the ground under Sternguard 2 as he begins his charge. Overwatch f rom Hellfire rounds see two wounds dealt, but they can't get past the thick armour. The XV104 charges in 8". The Marines hurl themselves at the enemy, but only 1 wound is landed, which is turned away by the Riptide. The Riptide auto-passes his Fear test (1st Company Task force rule) by being a Monstrous Creature, and swings 4 times, killing two Sternguard. They aren't running though, because of Fearless.

Tau: 4 buildings, First Blood, Warlord
Marines: 5 buildings

Turn 4 Marines

The four Tac teams converge on the threat.

Into Assault positions...

Threat neutralized...For the Emperor!

Resources are slim to resist the Tau push.
The lone Sergeant from Tac 2a clears the building on the far right by Strike Team 1.

Tac 3a clears the building in the corner.

Tac teams 1b, 2b, 3b and the 2 remaining Devastators all converge on the Piranhas.

The Tac teams can't shoot their Missile Launchers as it would disallow Assaulting, but they each throw a Krak grenade, but either don't hit, or fail to cause any damage.

Tac teams 1b, 2b and the Devs all successfully charge the Piranhas. 3 Krak grenades and 18 regular attacks prove too much for the Piranhas, and two of them lay smoking, sparking piles of rubble and debris after the Marines are done with them.

Sternguard 2 still can't manage to get past the armour of the Riptide, though they have no problem landing blows. The Riptide in return kills another 2 with powerful impacts from weapon barrels and giant armoured feet.

Tau: 4 buildings, First Blood, Warlord
Marines: 7 buildings

Turn 5 Tau

Before the Tau turn, things look grim for the Marines.

"Target that building! There's one in there!"

"Threat eliminated."

The effectiveness of the bait and switch becomes clear to the Marines too late.

When the dust settles, another Tac team is a broken pile of shattered armour.

Fire warriors assaulting? 

The Sternguard take advantage of squishier targets.

The Strike Team and Riptide pile in and fight back.

End of turn 5, and the Tau are dominating the field.
Most units move forward 6". The important bits are that the XV8 Commander and Strike Team 2 both clear and claim a building, but the Pathfinders, who have been having difficulty moving all game, can't seem to find a way onto the roof this turn. The two Piranhas left move 12" and hope to survive to score Linebreaker, since the score is so close.

Needing to ensure the Marines are deprived of at least one building point, the AIC target the building occupied by the sole survivor of Tac 2a, and unload everything they have...3 Railgun shots and 4 Seeker Missiles still on the Skyray. The Railguns get two Penetrating hits and the Seeker Missiles Glance twice. The building still has one Hull Point left! Rolling on the Building Damage Table one of the Railguns gets a 4+2 for AP1 for a result of  Total Collapse! The building is destroyed, and the Sergeant inside takes 13 wounds as the building comes crashing down on top of him. His power armour protects him, but not enough, as 4 saves are failed as he is impaled and entombed in the rubble. The Marines lose control of a building!

Strike Team 3, Devilfish 3 and the now Disembarked Drones from Devilfish 3 Group and target Tac 1b. The combined firepower is just enough to down the 5 Marines as round after round of Pulse Carbines and Rifles and Burst Cannons drive the Marines to the ground, armour shattered and covered in gore.

Longstrike tries to emulate the AIC and targets the building occupied by Tac 3a, but his Ion Cannon is not up to the task as he fails to even damage the building.

The Piranhas target the Devastators and the Drones manage to kill one, but the lone survivor holds his ground, ready to assault again.

The Pathfinders Run 6" onto the roof, but can't clear the building this turn.

Strike Team 1 charges into Sternguard 2 to help the Riptide. The Sternguard who can direct their attacks to targets they can hurt much easier, but the Fire Warrior armour provides adequate protection. The charging Strike Team deals 3 wounds to the Marines, but their armour is also up to the challenge, turning aside the blows. The Riptide, apparently caught off guard seeing his comrades assaulting, fails to connect this turn.

Tau: 6 buildings, First Blood, Warlord
Marines: 6 buildings

Turn 5 Marines

The overview of the bleak Marine situation.

The Marines focus on the Fire Warriors...

...killing two...

...the XV104 retaliates in kind, killing two Sternguard...

...and the fire Warriors overwhelm the last man, advancing over the pile of bodies!

The Devastator lowers his Plasma Cannon and pulls his pistol...

...gets as close as he can...

...barely makes his charge range (random rolls are bad, kids)...

...fails to kill any Fire Warriors...

...gets beaten down, and trampled as the Tau advance will not be stopped!

Assaulting the Piranhas again, trying to deny Linebreaker...

...success! Small victories matter when games go down this road.

Tac 3a shelers behind the shattered building, feeling a tad outnumbered, and outgunned.

The Marines focused on trying to clear their Deployment zone to deny Linebreaker, and Tac 3a moved into a position to try to reach the Riptide with their Powerfist if there is a turn 6.

Tac teams 2b and 3b moved to Assault the two remaining Piranhas.

Being able to damage the Piranhas from the side with their bolt pistols, Tac 2b and 3b fire a volley and each throw a Krak grenade, but they can't seem to damage the Skimmers.

Tac 2b and 3b asault the Piranhas, and finally bring them down with a combination of Krak grenades and Marine determination.

The lone Devastator hurls himself into Strike Team 3, unnerving them enough that they missed him completely with their Overwatch fire, but he fails to kill any, and in return the drubbing he gets from Pulse Rifle butts knocks him senseless, and the Strike Team advances over his prostrate form.

In the center of the table, the Marines kill 2 Fire Warriors but it is irrelevant as all three are annihilated in return, and the Tau advance continues unabated.

Tau: 6 buildings, First Blood, Warlord
Marines: 6 buildings

Thankfully for the Marines, there is no Turn 6. Victory for the Greater Good!


Emperor's Shields
Well, that could have gone better. The thinking was that an all infantry force should do well in a city environment, but that firepower was just insane. Smart Missile Sytems mean you can't hide out of Line of Sight and be safe, and it was just death to be caught in the open. So, it was all about trying to outscore the Tau, which made the score close, but the game terribly one-sided. So, a re-working of the list, and the Tau list is locked for next game. Revenge will be sweet!

Tau Empire
The standard Tau doctrine of kill the closest thing to prevent assaults worked this time, but having the mobility to score and claim enough buildings was what made this game. Without those transports, even though the Marines got slaughtered, they would have won the game I think. As always, moving into the middle of the table is terribly risky for Mech Tau, as a single Marine can run down whole units, if he survives the Overwatch!! Next game, I don't think will go as well. I'm anticipating Terminators Deep Striking and the like.

Until next time, happy gaming!

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