Prior to leaving for the theater my son Jackson had asked to play a game of Warhammer 40,000. So we set up a game and when I returned it was time for the lead to start flying.
Generally speaking, Jackson has a somewhat short attention span. Nothing drastic for your average 10 year old mind you. But he likes to play games with Dad so I went with much smaller armies using 40Ks Combat Patrol rules. He got 400 points of Tau and I took the same of Imperial Space Marines. This is the After Action Report for that battle. Alas neither of these armies have a spot of paint on them... Don't hold it against me! :-)
FROM: Captain Hesh Boral, 3rd Company, Trouble Corp
TO: Reclusiarch Gradon Mendor, 3rd Company, Trouble Corp
LOCATION: Kedge Sector, Brown Zone Zeta 4, Bunker 764202
MESSAGE: Gradon, your timing for morale and devotion activity with Bravo 67 Platoon could not have been better. Lord General Velinth has requested from the Chapter Master that a probe patrol be initiated immediately in Brown Zone. It is his belief that the Tau have begun to pull out from that Zone to reinforce Ultor Sector some 300km away. Orbital scans have confirmed an increase in Tau Devilfish activity in BZZ4 and General Velinth believes that this is part of a large redeployment of Tau forces. It is thought amongst command that this makes BZZ4 (and specifically the line near Bunker 764202) weak and ripe for a break through. However, active Tau jamming has prevented detailed biological scanning and so for all we know all that Devilfish activity has resulted in a reinfocement of BZZ4 rather than a withdrawl. You are here by ordered by the Chapter Master to personally lead Bravo 67s two squads in a combat probe of the Tau line from Bunker 764202. If you can affect a breakthrough activate your personal teleport homing beacon and 1st Company will immediatly deep strike their Terminator assault squad on your position to establish a beach head. Further drop reinforcements will follow to exploit the break. May the Emperor be with you all.
I had to deploy first and so I placed my main squad being lead by the company Reclusiarch on my right flank with the plan to move through the woods towards the Tau line. My objective was to move up and assault his left flank without having to suffer the withering fire that the Tau are best at. I setup second squad to the left of the bunker in the dragons teeth hoping that I could cover the relatively open ground quickly enough to assault either the Stealth Suits or his center Fire Warrior unit. I knew I was taking a gamble since Jackson did a really good job of deploying his troops to take maximum advantage of cover. Putting his Stealth Suit team behind the hill was very smart and allowed him to use the mobility of their jump packs and the awesome fire power of their Burst Cannons to harass my 2nd squad during their march across the no mans land.
Turn 1 - Space Marines
I won initiative and moved 2nd squad up as fast as they could go. The porcupines don't provide any realistic cover to the squad so I had to rely on the Space Marines superb power armor to help them survive the hail of fire they were sure to encounter. 1st squad didn't fair so well. Because they were moving into the difficult ground of the woods a dice roll is made to see how far they could move... A pitiful one inch! Not even enough movement to get them into the woods let alone covering the ground they needed to get into a position to threaten Jacksons left flank. 2nd squad opened fire with their bolters on the central Fire Warrior team who were well positioned in their prepared defensive bulwark. However this wasn't enough to protect them, the surprise attack caught three of them out and killed.
Turn 1 - Tau
Jackson did exactly what he needed to do. Stay hunkered down and blast the encroaching Space Marines mercilessly. First he jumped his Stealth team over the hill and opened fire on the completely exposed 2nd squad. However, despite numerous direct hits the marines armor saved them from taking any casualties. But it wasn't to last. Angered at the loss of their comrades, the Fire Warriors in the central squad manage to kill a marine. Another two marines in 2nd squad die to fire from the Fire Warriors positioned in the dragons teeth. But 2nd squad holds strong, passing their morale test.
Turn 2 - Space Marines
1st Squad finally starts moving in the woods, and while this protects them from incoming fire it also prevents them from shooting at anything themselves. 2nd squad soldiers forward and opens fire on the Stealth Team, but the XV15 armor protects the unit from all the hits the Marines inflict. This isn't a good sign.
Turn 2 - Tau
Jackson repositions the Stealth Team to keep them out of assault range. The Tau are superb at ranged combat being arguably the best shooters in the game. But they are less than competent at hand to hand combat, something the Marines excel at. Again, the entire Tau gun line opens fire on the beleaguered 2nd squad killing a further three marines. Despite the massive casualties putting them below half strength, 2nd squad does not break.
Turn 3 - Space Marines
1st squad again makes good progress in the woods, but 2nd squad is in a bad way and is ineffective with its fire. Things are starting to look very grim for the marines of Bravo 67.
Turn 3 - Tau
Again Jackson keeps his Stealth Team out of arms reach and with only one visible enemy, they continue the slaughter of 2nd squad, killing a further three marines. At this point, 2nd squads lone Sargent breaks and runs, heading back to friendly lines.
Turn 4 - Space Marines
2nd squads lone Sargent fails to rally and continues to run for his life while 1st squad makes further headway into the woods.
Turn 4 - Tau
The Fire Warriors occupying the dragons teeth are certain that the push through open ground was a feint for an assault to come from the cover of the woods to their left. They wisely pull back in good order towards the prepared position of their fellow Fire Warrior squad.
Turn 5 - Space Marines
The lone man from 2nd squad fails to rally again, determined to make it to the safety of his own lines. 1st squad, now realizing their massive tactical blunder emerge from the woods well short of the designated assault point in an effort to disrupt the Tau lines on the left flank any way they can. Their bolters prove ineffective but fortunately the Plasma gunner risks a weapon failure and rapid fires into the Tau who were occupying the dragons teeth killing two Fire Warriors.
Turn 5 - Tau
The Stealth Team was prepared for exactly this event and immediately opened fire on the Marines emerging from the woods instantly killing the three point men. The marines superb power armor protects them from the Fire Warriors Pulse Rifle fire however.
Turn 6 - Space Marines
Reclusiarch Mendor now knows that not only have the Tau not weakened their positions with troop withdrawals they still have a strong fortified line and the will to hold it. He orders the remnants of 1st squad to continue firing on the Tau positions while he reports this back to company command. He can only hope that he lives long enough for the transmission to go through. 1st squad manages to take out two members of the XV15 Stealth Team, but it is too little too late.
Turn 6 - Tau
With a new target to focus their superb firepower on, the Tau unleash everything they have and kill a further three marines. Despite the Space Marines hardened will allowing them to pass their psychology test they know that a rapid withdrawal back into the cover of the woods and back to their own position on the line is their only hope for survival.
And that was that. Jackson did a great job of deploying his Fire Warriors and resisting the urge to move them until it was absolutely needed (knowing that the Marine unit in the woods was getting too close for comfort). He made excellent use of his Stealth Team to keep 2nd squad at bay, always tempting the marines to move that much closer while the Fire Warriors tore them to shreds. Admittedly I had setup the game to give him maximum advantages and gave him tactical advice during the game but still he surprises me sometimes with his own grasp of the tactics of the game.
For my own part I knew that the probability of survival for 2nd squad was very low from the very beginning. I had hoped that their armor would have been enough for them to at least make it to the Tau positions at half strength but no such luck. While moving 1st squad through the woods was the right thing to do it was a huge gamble since every movement phase meant I was at the mercy of the dice for the distance I could travel. The first turn move of only one inch really hurt me. Despite getting far better roles for the remainder of the game it put the squad way behind on their objective. If I were to repeat this mission I would probably add some visibility limiter such as fog or heavy rain fall so that the marines had a slightly better chance of making it across.
All in all a fun short game.