As part of our ongoing coverage of Epic Armageddon, read on for a photo-battle report from a tournament where two polar-opposite armies have met on the ashen surface of a mineral rich planet.
The long-ranged Tau must battle an invasion of mighty Ork Gargants and SupaStompas.
“United, our will is greater than any other force. We shall inherit the stars, even if we must first cleanse them in blood.” – Commander Farsight
“The best means of Attack is Defence, an’ the best means of Attack is a really really Big One, right, with lots of Boyz an’ dead-big shooty things, an’ what have ya.” – Smartboy Derek Zog
Matt’s Vior’la Tau
 4 XV8 Crisis Battlesuit + Gun Drones x4
 12 Vior’la Firewarrior Cadre Fireblade (Firewarriors gain FF 4+) + 3 Pathfinders + Ethereal + Supreme Commander
 6 XV88 Broadside Battlesuits
 4 Tetra Skimmers (Scout) + 1 Pihrana
 4 Tetra Skimmers (Scout) + 1 Pihrana
 4 Hammerhead Skimmers
 4 Hammerhead Skimmers + 1 Skyray Air Defence Gunship
 2 XV104 Riptide War Engine (DC2) (Tau Deflector field. Reinforced Armour) + 2 Shielded Missile Drones
 Orca Dropship – Aircraft
 Sun Shark Bomber – Bomber – Pulse Bomb Generator 3BP Fixed Forward Arc
 2 Tiger Shark AX-1-0 – Aircraft – Bomber – Twin Railcannon Titan Killer
Jason’s Ork Gargants
 GREAT GARGANT  Damage Capacity 12 – Reinforced Armour – 6+D6 shields
Mekboy Big Boss, (Kustom) Supa Zzap Gun, (Kustom) Supa Zzap Gun
 GARGANT  Damage Capacity 8 – Reinforced Armour – 3+D3 shields
(Kustom) Supa Zzap Gun, (Kustom) Supa Zzap Gun
 2 Supa Stompas, 2 No Big Kustom Upgrade, (Kustom) Megalobba, (Kustom) Supa Zzap Gun
 1 Supa Stompa, (Kustom) Megalobba, (Kustom) Megalobba
 Lootaz – 6 Boyz, 2 Grotz, No Kustom Upgrade, Oddboy, 2 Big Gunz, (Big Kustom) Grot Guided Mega Missiles (Death Strike)
 3 Fighta-Bommers
Game set up:
Anyone who pays any attention to Epic will know it is a game entirely about objectives, and their placement is pivotal in shaping the course of the battle. I placed my Blitz (the objective must valuable to the enemy) in the far left corner, but all other objectives were placed in a tight cluster on the far right, near the Ork blitz.
For me, this means I could consider my Blitz fairly safe (Jason’s Ork Gargant army is very slow) and try to use units to take multiple objectives late in the game. For Jason, it meant it was hardly worth even trying to go for my blitz, but that the battle would be extremely concentrated in one area, which suits his slow moving Gargants and Stompas.
I set up a scout formation of Tetras out of sight, and everything else just outside of the range that Ork’s could reach by doing their signature double move and shoot order. The challenge is the range advantage is actually extremely small as most of the best Tau weapons are 75cm, and these Orks have 60cm guns so powerful they either destroy models immediately (titan killers) or break formations without even needing to roll to do damage (massive barrages).
The Orks random rolls to see how many powerfields they start the game with were very generous, giving the Gargant 6 shields from a D6 and the Greater Gargant an amazing 11 from 2xD6. Despite it being the source of their army’s Order rerolls and the Break the Spirit Objective, I wrote the Greater Gargant off as a viable target; it would take more than the length of 1 game even for Tau to get through 11 shields and 12 Reinforced Armour damage points. IMHO attempting to kill it would lose me the game.
Tau win the Initiative to activate a unit first. I immediately sent the Tetra scouts that were set up near the enemy lines screaming forward to markerlight the Lootas. The Lootas are cheap infantry, but the unit had been armed with a 1 shot Deathstrike missile. With the markerlights on them, Jason guessed (correctly) a Sunshark bomber was soon to follow to target the deathstrike from behind, and so decided it was time to “use it or lose it”. Firing using overwatch, the lootas hit the light skimmers with their nuke.
Three were instantly destroyed and the formation broken, but ensuring the missile was used on a low-value target was an excellent start for Tau. Sacrifices must be made for the Greater Good.
The Sunshark bomber targets the Stompas and removes the shields from one of them.
Jason moved his Gargant forward and took some shots the Broadsides, suppressing some. After that, the Tiger Shark AX-10s screamed in to fire titan killing weapons at the Stompas – they hit on a 3+ and penetrate all armour, but they both missed.
Jason’s Fightbombas launched an interceptor mission and put a blast marker on one, but were unable to destroy it.
The Greater Gargant did a double move, rounding the giant builting to get into contesting range of objectives. It casually destroyed tetras near a small fort as it went.
Crisis Suits air-drop from an Orca, opening up on Lootas far behind enemy lines.
Distant Stompas fire a massive 9 barrage points worth of blast template weapons at 4 hammerheads, breaking them instantly.
The other hammerhead formation does a pop up attack to strip shields in preparation for the AX-10s to come in again.
Fightabombas strafe the Broadsides. The Broadsides have excellent armour, but they also count as Light Vehicles meaning that the Fightabommas can use both their anti-personnel and anti-tank weapons. The result is they killing one and suppressing the unit.
By turn 2 it was obvious the Orks weren’t going to manage to take the distant Blitz Objective that is set up on the Tau base-line. Since defending it is unlikely to score points (objectives in your own half can only score 1 point, and that’s only if you manage to hold all three uncontested), I sent the Orca in to pick up the Firewarrior formation guarding it.
The last flight out of Saigon:
At the start of turn 3, the objectives are very much in Ork hands. They hold their Blitz, 3 other objectives and have moved well into the Tau half, while I have a small unit in their half holding one objective. The lower activation count (the amount of individual units that an army can activate during its turn) is taking its toll however, as every unit lost hurts the Orks a lot more and reduces their options.
A stopma strides forward, captures an objective and simultaneously breaks the Hammerheads with its Barrage Weapon again.
The Tigershark AX-10s are not amused by this, and scream in on a ground attack mission to vapourise it with titan killing weapons. And to think I almost dropped them from the army.
A shoot out with Riptides leaves the Greater Gargant with only 1 shield (and 12 Damage capacity), but it manages to get between 2 objectives and on my side of the board. The Crisis Suits contest the objective however, and spread out to capture another.
With the Riptides on another objective, all that remains is to take the opponent’s Blitz. The Orca drops in from high altitude and delivers the Firewarriors who open up with Pulse rifles to drive the Lootas away broken.
The most rare of sights – not only is there a Tau Ethereal in the game, but he’s made it all the way to the enemy Blitz Objective!
With the nearby Gargant already broken, this means the objective is secure and the game is a 2-0 win to Tau. Well played by Jason, he has an extremely characterful and powerful army. It felt like attacking elephants with a swarm of mosquitos; he told me after the match that his Greater Gargant has never died in a game and I’m not surprised. I’m lucky that staying away from it and focussing on snatching objectives instead paid off.
Next up, the Tau would face Spiv and his endless swarms of planet-devouring Tyrannids.