Posts Tagged 'Tau'

Versus the Tau Empire

I played against Josh and his Tau down in the Nerd Bunker. Tau was my very first army when I first started playing Warhammer 40k. I built and painted a bunch of them (mainly Firewarriors and Kroot) and then discovered that though they might build and paint pretty quickly, I wanted more modeling opportunities and general bitz and customization. This caused me to switch over to Chaos Space Marines (which put spikes and skulls on everything) and I haven’t really looked back. However, I still remember much of the Tau codex, so I may have been more familiar with this opposing force than any other that I’ve fought in the Nerd Bunker.

At this point, I don’t remember what the mission or the deployment was. As it turns out, this game was played back in April (just after Adepticon) and my notes are limited and I only seem to have three photos. I apologize in advance for a bit of a light batrep.

I won first turn. I moved up my troops that were on the table (I had reserved my Daemon Prince, Uncle Tickles, my three Stupid Terminators, and my three Obliterators because I didn’t want them to start out on the table due to his superior shooting) and tried firing my Vindicators, which were out of range, as usual. I just didn’t get much done. Josh, on the other hand, wrecked one of my Vindicators by using his Markerlights (kind of like laser targeting) and used his big Hammerhead tank to wreck the other one. Then he wrecked the Rhino full of Berzerkers with missile pods. For those of you scoring at home: I didn’t even hit stuff on my first turn, and the Tau wrecked two of my tanks and one of my personnel carriers on the first turn. It was looking grim on the first turn, which is always good.

Does this die look cocked to you?

On the second turn, my Daemon Prince and Stupid Terminators Deepstruck in to Josh’s back lines. Unfortunately, they didn’t do much once they got there. The Daemon Prince only put a wound on a single Tau Battlesuit and the Stupid Terminators dropped in front of Josh’s Broadsides (fancy battlesuits with twin-linked rail guns) and all three tried to fire their one-shot combi-meltas into them, hopefully taking them out. Of course, the Stupid Terminators completely flubbed this attack, wasting their combi-meltas and not doing anything but waiting to die in Josh’s turn, which is exactly what they did. Luckily, my Chaos Dreadnought (Zoidberg) hit one of Josh’s Hammerhead tanks and caused it to become Shaken, so it couldn’t fire for a turn. Unluckily, Josh’s Firewarriors unloaded a ton of fire (probably why they call them Firewarriors) into the Daemon Prince and he couldn’t make saves to save his life (literally) and he died. Josh killed some of my regular Chaos Space Marine troopers with some random fire and then turn two finally ended.

My Daemon Prince about to take a whole bunch of Tau gunfire to the face

In turn three, my Obliterators and Uncle Tickles (my Chaos Lord in the Terminator armor, the dual Lightning Claws and the winning personality) finally showed up to the party, and tried to get to work. While they were strolling onto the board, my CSM troops wasted some shots on Josh’s Broadsides and again did nothing. He was masterful at making 4+ cover saves on this day. Luckily for me, his luck didn’t hold out forever, and the Obliterators (with their long-range weaponry) finally popped one of his regular Battlesuits, and caused the other one to break and run off the board. I finally had a killpoint! However, Josh had five, and was about to get more. On Josh’s turn, Uncle Tickles died in a hail off gunfire from a bunch of Battlesuits and some of the Firewarriors. The evil Broadsides shot up a few more of my CSM troops, but they didn’t break. Josh’s Kroot also tried to shoot up the CSM guys, but they lived through it. Lastly, the non-Shaken Hammerhead aimed his big, scary railgun at poor old Zoidberg, but he luckily missed.

On my turn 4, my Plague Marines were able to Immobilize one of Josh’s Devilfish transports with their plasmaguns. Zoidberg shot back at the Hammerhead that fired at him last turn, and destroyed the railgun on it, effectively neutering it. The Obliterators all flubbed their shots at the Hammerhead and were awarded no points. The Chaos Space Marine troops completely screwed up their assault against the Kroot and at the end, the last figure in the unit (the Aspiring Champion) decided to give up his aspirations of being a Champion and run away like a little girl. Luckily, I did get a bit of work done in this turn: my mob of Khorne Berzerkers brutally charged a pair of Tau Gun Drones and the poor drones couldn’t make their saves against 25 wounds and they died. Sure, it was overkill, but at this point I had to take what I could get.

So many Wrecked vehicles

On Josh’s turn four, his Kroot laughed at my cowardly “Aspiring” Champion as he aspired to run off the board and shot at him as he ran, but they didn’t kill him. Josh’s remaining Battlesuits ganged up on my beloved Obliterators and killed one, leaving two. His Hammerhead and this other Devilfish killed off half of my unit of Berzerkers, who were still high off of their triumph over the two measly Gun Drones. Things were winding down.

Here’s all I have written down in my notes for my turn five: “Nothing. No shots landed.” So things weren’t looking good for me. On Josh’s turn five, his Battlesuit Command Squad killed off my last two Obliterators, leaving me with very little left.

Either we rolled to end the game at the end of turn five or we just called it, I’m not sure anymore and my notes became nothing but swear-words and something about “commie fish-cows” or something. Some people like to say that the Tau are an underpowered army and that is frequently true in close combat. However, their guns are some of the best in the game, as I rediscovered in this particular battle.

Black Templar: A Third Army for Me, I Guess?

So, yeah: I’m building a small Combat Patrol force of Black Templar Space Marines now, because I am mental. If you’re not familiar with the Black Templars, they’re a chapter of the Space Marines that broke off from the Imperial Fists after the Horus Heresy, when the nearly-crippled Imperium of Mankind was trying to split up the remaining Space Marine Legions into smaller Chapters, so as to more easily nip that whole civil war thing in the bud, if you will. The Black Templars swore an oath to destroy the mutant, the heretic and the alien and since their founding, they have been on a non-stop 10,000-year crusade (or even multiple simultaneous crusades) to do just that. They technically don’t even have a home planet or main base of operations on some world; their main base of operations is their fleet of battle barges, strike cruisers and whatnot that are always on the move. These guys follow the ABC: Always Be Crusading.

Figure 1: a Black Templar Marshall and Emperor's Champion tear some stuff up

The fluff is cool and all, but the main reason I’ve chosen this army is because of the modeling and painting aspect, as is usual for me. Sure, they’re Space Marines (and there are a lot of Space Marines out there) but these guys have such specific iconography that I really dig. Their armor is mostly black (‘natch) with white shoulderpads and a little red and gold as accents, specifically on the veterans. Everything has got the cross on it, which is also a cool thing about this army: there’s an inexpensive upgrade box you can buy that just has tons and tons of cool bitz to make your Space Marines really look like Black Templars. It comes with specific shoulderpads, bolters, chainswords, tabards, helmets, even doors for your Rhinos and Landraiders, and all of it is covered with Black Templar iconography. For a pretty low price, you can get your troops kitted out quite nicely with a lot of custom bitz – special stuff that would cost a lot of cash if you were to buy the resin upgrade kits from Forge World.

Figure 2: Hey man... nice sword

Do I need a third army? Well, technically I’m not planning to build a whole full-blown army of Black Templar, just a much smaller Combat Patrol force. I already have enough stuff for my Tau and Chaos Space Marines to easily build 2000-point armies for each, so I don’t plan on going down that road again. That being said, the Tau are supposed to be getting a new codex rulebook sometime soon, between the next six months or a year. When that book comes out, I’ll check it out and if it doesn’t impress me, I could easily see selling my Tau army on eBay or something. Sure, they’re easy to build and paint, but there aren’t many cool options and the modeling is kind of dull, honestly. Chaos and Black Templar speak to me more as a modeler, I guess.

So that (and a little gamer A.D.D.) has caused me to place a small order for some troops and a few small vehicles. I played three games of Combat Patrol this weekend with different Black Templar lists, and I learned a few things, which is good. I’m sure you’ll see more on this blog as I progress forward with this plan. However, there’s a wrinkle: there’s a Combat Patrol tournament coming up on Saturday, January 21st, and I want to play in it. But, I need to make a decision – am I going to play the same list of Chaos Space Marines I played back in September, or a totally new Chaos list? Or am I going to try to crank out Black Templars in time? Or will the Tau make an appearance? I really have no idea at this point. Stay tuned, I guess.

Dark Eldar Destruction and the Rise of Chaos

On Sunday, I played another little 500-point Combat Patrol battle with Sam. This time, he brought his brand-spanking new Dark Eldar to the battle. And I do mean spanking. I’m still having some trouble sitting down.

Holding the hill that they would soon stain with their own blood

I’m not going to get too much into my list here, but I had a Commander in a battlesuit, two other Crisis battlesuits, a Devilfish with nine Firewarriors and a group of a dozen Kroot trying to infiltrate up the side. Came to 495 points. I deployed first and got first turn.

Sam had three vehicles. Two had troops inside and one was a gunship with no troops. I don’t know diddly about Dark Eldar units, so I can’t tell you more than that. I can tell you that at the end of the (quick) battle, all I had left was the Devilfish and one battlesuit. He had only lost two figures, which were Wyches, I believe. I think the Devilfish had finally landed a shot to cause those two deaths, otherwise I would have been completely skunked.

I'm glad they look cool, because otherwise they were completely useless

Long story short: The Tau are supposed to be a “shooty” army. In comparison to the new Dark Eldar, I would have to disagree. Everything I deployed had a Ballistic Skill of 3 (meaning it only hits on a four, five or six on a D6) and the Dark Eldar all seem to have BS 4 (meaning they hit on a three, four, five or six on a D6) which doesn’t seem like a big difference, but it’s actually the difference between hitting 50% of the time or 66% of the time, which is sort of a big deal. Also, I had a vehicle that, if it sat still, could fire seven times in a turn (Burst Cannon is Assault 3 and Smart Missile System is Heavy 4). Sam had a vehicle (it was the one that destroyed most of my battlesuits and all of my Firewarriors) that, if it sat still, could shoot twenty-four times in a turn. At Ballistic Skill 4.

Shooty army, indeed.

So anyway, that’s the way Games Workshop works: The newest codex is always super-duper overpowered and everyone else cries foul or switches to the new armies, and the circle of life continues. You either deal with it or don’t play their screwed up ruleset. However, I do have an option.

I went a little eBay crazy a few months back and bought a second army – Chaos Space Marines. I bought troops and Berzerkers and Terminators and Rhinos and Vindicators and a Land Raider, plus some other stuff. Now, I know what you’re going to say: isn’t their codex just as old as the Tau codex? And actually, it’s not. But nearly as old, yes. However, I still think that Chaos Space Marines are a more capable and versatile army than the Tau, and they look pretty cool, too. So I’m going to start working on my Chaos Space Marines and leave the Tau be, for now. I’ll play some more Combat Patrol with Sam to keep my practice up (but I’ll prefer if he brings his Orks next time) but I’ll be working full bore on the Chaos Space Marines and preparing to Let the Galaxy Burn!

And, if Games Workshop plays it like I suspect they will, then when they release the new Tau Empire Codex, rumored to be released sometime in 2012, then my newly minted Firewarriors (now with BS 8, pulse rifles that are Assault 10 with a range of 60 inches and at Strength 9 AP 2 and with three wounds each), will be ready.

Twelve Kroot Finished

It’s been more than a week since I last posted, and that was a bit longer than I wanted to go between posts. However, I have many things to show you.  I have ‘leveled up’ in two areas recently: in the ‘finishing 12 Kroot’ area and in the ‘taking better miniatures photos’ area. Below, you may bask in the fruits of my labor:

The Dirty Dozen, called that because they are actually quite dirty and there are twelve of them

The Kroot are fun to build and fun to paint, mainly due to the extreme amount of customization possible with their sprues. Beyond all of the head, arm and body options, there are tons and tons of accessories. Besides all of the different pistols and knives and grenades available, there are also tons of bags and satchels and who-knows-what.

Three Kroot warriors

I knew I wanted to keep their skin tones pretty dull, so they were originally primed black and then airbrushed Khemri Brown, leaving some of the black to show through and act as built-in shadows. After they were dry, they were then washed with the magical and powerful Devlan Mud wash from Games Workshop. This makes every paint job better, really. Especially if you’re a novice painter like me.

Three more Kroot warriors

One of the strengths of the Kroot kit is also one if its weaknesses: due to all of the possible customization and added on parts and such, they take a long time to build. However, they look pretty cool when they’re built. Then, of course, with all of that detail, they then take a long time to paint. However, they look pretty cool when they’re painted, so there’s that.

A view of some of the great customization options

Since I kept their skin tones so dull and neutral, I decided to make sure their head plumage was quite colorful as a contrast. I went with the strong blue tone to complement to warmer skin tone. Also, some of the warriors have decoration in their plumage, so to really call those elements out, I made them orange (the exact opposite, or complementary color on the color wheel) and I think that worked out well. Lastly, since the Kroot are not really a professional military force with the matching equipment fetish that usually entails, I figured it would be a good idea to switch up colors on a lot of the little details, like rifle straps, satchels and the like.

Some of these guys remembered to bring their lunch

All in all, I think they turned out well and they were basically a fun time to paint. However, I’m not sure I’ll be building and painting the other 12 that I have on the sprue (which came in my other Tau battleforce box) because I’m not sure how actually useful they are in battle and I don’t know if I’m going to end up having room for them (and all the other stuff I’m planning on building to get to a 1500 point Tau army) in my Battlefoam bag. So I guess we’ll see, but I am glad I got to finish these guys.

Other than the four Tau Pathfinders I need to finish painting, I don’t really have anything else built right now, which means I’ll be taking a small break from painting. During that time, I’ll be working on three things: magnetizing my Crisis Battlesuits (which I’ve never done before), working on the Nerd Bunker (natch) and getting ready for running some Song of Blades and Heroes at a local convention at the end of the month. It’s always good to stay busy.

First Warhammer 40k Game in a Long, Long Time

Actually, it was basically my first Warhammer 40,000 ever, as far as the 5th edition rules were concerned. The last time I played, the rules were in their 2nd or 3rd edition, so it was a pretty new experience for me. However, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Last weekend, I got together with my good friend Sam, miniatures painter extraordinaire, at his brother’s house. We got together so he could teach me the rules and get my feet wet (or re-wetted) in Warhammer 40,000. We were going to play a Combat Patrol battle, with only 500 points for our forces. I brought my Tau, and he brought his Orks.

My Firewarriors have this hill protected, believe me

I had 10 Tau Firewarriors in a Devilfish transport, which was missing some pieces and unpainted. I had 10 Kroot who were only mostly painted. I had a Crisis Battlesuit Commander and two ‘Fireknife’ Crisis Battlesuits as well, who were not only unpainted, but didn’t even have arms, weapons or heads! I felt like a shlub fielding unpainted and unfinished models, especially against Sam’s exquisitely-painted Orks, Nobz and Killa Kans. However, if I waited until I had fully finished forces to actually start practicing and playing, it would be a damn long while before I got some games in.

We started slow, so I could get the cadence of the play sequence. By the time I started to get the hang of it, my forces were mainly little blue stringy bits found at the bottom of a few smoking craters (the Tau are generally blue under their armor). However, I had learned some of the rules and the sequence, so that helped a lot.

After that initial game, Sam’s friend Alan stepped in and brought 500 points of Imperial Guard against my plucky little band of half-painted Tau. This game went much better for me, both in my understanding of the rules and in my strategy. The result of this was that I wasn’t immediately destroyed, and actually fought back and did some decent damage. Alan pointed out a few tactics that would have worked a bit better for me, and I was much obliged.

Generally I learned a lot and it made reading the rulesbooks so much more informative. Reading the rules is great and necessary, but for me, it helps so much more if I can get someone with a grasp of the rules to help me put those rules into practice. After the first game, things were starting to make much more sense to me, and rules that seemed to be arbitrary before started to take on marked importance.

So, I’m looking forward to playing again soon, and I know Sam wants to try out his new Dark Eldar against my sad little Tau forces, so I hope we can get back together soon. These games really helped to spur me forward and they’re also giving me even more of a push to keep painting!

Holidays with the Tau

It’s been longer than I hoped it would be since my last post, but I’m still trying to get settled after the move, the holidays and more work in the Nerd Bunker. It has slowed down my modeling progress, to be sure. I was going to make another post about the Nerd Bunker (as work has been progressing) but I didn’t want to do two in a row about it, so instead, I’ll show you some work-in-progress shots of one of the few actual modeling projects I’ve been able to work on.

Since I don’t really have a proper place to work at this point and it’s cold and lousy outside, I really can’t prime or spray-basecoat any built models. However, I still wanted to keep moving on with painting my Tau Empire army, so I enlisted the help of a friend.

My friend Sam Lenz is a professional miniatures painter, so I contacted him about paying him to prime and basecoat 12 Kroot and four Tau Pathfinders for me. We worked out a price, I dropped off the figures and he did the work quickly and got them back to me so I could then start doing the detail painting and the washes and whatnot.

Four Tau Pathfinders

These guys were primed black and then airbrushed with a basecoat of Khemri Brown from Games Workshop. Once I got them back from him, I started washing them with Baal Red. I wanted to keep them subtle, as they’re kind of like the Tau version of scouts. I kind of envisioned them as being from a red world (if you’ve seen my Firewarriors) so they’re actually kind of camouflaged. I need to finish up the bases and then they’ll mostly be done.

A dirty dozen

These 12 Kroot warriors were also primed black and then airbrushed Khemri Brown. After that had dried, Sam used a Delvan Mud wash on all of their skin bits. I haven’t even started working with these guys yet, but they look pretty cool already, so I think they’re going to work out pretty well. I just need to figure out my color schemes for them. I think I might try making their headspines in a purple or something like that. Maybe a purple color at the base, and then a middle blue towards the ends and then Bleached Bone right at the tips. That could be pretty cool.

I’m glad I’m able to keep painting even while my workspace is under construction. Momentum is an important thing for me in miniatures painting, so if I wouldn’t have been able to get my built minis primed and basecoated for another few months, it would have caused some serious issues with my eventual success.

Speaking of success, I have two main goals right now: Finish the Nerd Bunker and finish my Tau Empire army. I’ve always found that big projects like that go ‘quicker’ for me and are more likely to get finished if I can have some mini-milestones along the way. With the Nerd Bunker, these milestones will be getting the walls painted (which I will be working on again tonight) and getting my spray room finished so I can set up my airbrush and compressor. As a milestone for the army, I’m working to build a decent ‘Combat Patrol‘ 400-point list, so I can at least get some gaming in and start training myself to play right. I’m getting close on that milestone, too. Check here for more in the following weeks.

Finished Tau Firewarriors

A few weeks ago (before moving into the new house and all of the activities that involves) I finished my Tau Firewarriors. I now have 12 standard Firewarriors (with pulse rifles) and two “leader” Firewarriors with differently painted shoulderpads. This allows me to field two squads of six standard Firewarriors, or two squads of six standard Firewarriors with leaders, or a full squad of 11 standard Firewarrirors and a leader, or a full squad of 12 standard Firewarriors, etc. You get the idea.

A bit of a gaggle

They turned out pretty well, I think. Using the colored spray primer from Duplicolor, and the quick orange spray from above, they painted up pretty quickly. I can’t stress this enough when painting a big squad or many figures for an army: write down your recipe for the figure. The “recipe” is the steps you take to get it from start to finish. You paint yourself up a test figure or two, and make notes as you go, step-by-step. Include names of paints and how many coats. Did you drybrush this step, and where? This really, really helps if your memory is as lousy as mine, and probably even if it isn’t.

The red-orange avengers for the Greater Good

I’m pretty happy with how they turned out for how quick and easy they were to paint up. You gotta love the Tau, with their smooth surfaces and simple details. No skulls. No wings. No skulls with wings. Just easy lines and a generally monochrome nature, if the official artwork and fluff is to be believed. Perhaps I’ll post my step-by-step recipe for my Firewarriors at some point so you can see how quick and easy I ended up making them.

As a side note, I need my photos to get better. I don’t know if I need to redesign my lightbox for taking photos, or if I just have to get my settings dialed in a bit more, but the photos just aren’t quite where I want them, yet.

And now, what am I working on? Kroot, of course. For those not in the know, the Kroot are mercenary “savages” that work for the Tau (kinda) and are much, much better at hand to hand fighting than the shooty Tau. They’re unarmored and wear little more than skins and very little else. They carry longrifles that also double as slashing clubs, and they’re the descendants of bird-like reptiles or something like that. They look cool, and the models are neat. In game terms, they’re the speedbump that assault armies will have to plow through before they can properly defile my poor Firewarriors / Crisis Battlesuits / Hammerhead tanks and whatnot in hand-to-hand combat. Hopefully the Kroot sacrifice will allow my shooty troops to get at least one more shot off at their foes before they get sawed in half, but we shall see.

atom smashing

A gaming blog talking about miniatures games, miniatures painting and collecting, game design and other nerdly delights.

The Statistics – 2013

Minis games played:
• WH40k (1850 pts):
   BT/GK vs Kevin (Eldar/DE) LOST
• WH40k (1500 pts):
   BT vs Jason (D.E.) LOST
• WH40k (1500 pts):
   BT vs Kevin (S.W.) LOST
Minis finished:
 none yet
Terrain finished:
 none yet
Cons attended:
 Fire & Ice
updated 28FEB2013

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