My opponent deployed very aggressively, placing his Ghostkeels, Stealths and Shadowsun forward up my right flank, hoping to alpha strike my Broadside and drones with his Stealths and the Raker Keel so that his Fusion Keels could target my Commander. His armor sat in the back, as with their extreme range, they could pick off what they wanted from pretty much anywhere. The infantry went in cover.
We decided that placing an eligible unit in a Manta hold still counted as a "drop" for deployment purposes, but because of the Fish and embarked Breachers counting as one drop, the Enclaves would finish deployment first. With the new edition rules that meant they would go first. We were in a little bit of a pickle with the rules change because we wanted to reward the Empire for the game 2 win, while abiding by the rules for 8th edition. So we modified the reward for Empire from the last game to a 2+ Seize the Initiative. Treating that as a guarantee, I deployed my Surge to the rear, out of the Keel's fusion range accounting for movement, and I reserved Farsight and his Crisis teams.
The Ambush is Ambushed:
Enclaves Turn 1:
Welp; he rolled a 1 for his Seize, re-rolled with a Command Point and rolled 1 AGAIN. Wow. This was a huge boon for the Enclaves. His skirmishers were hung out to dry in range of virtually my entire army. I smelled blood and brought Farsight and his Crisis teams in from their Manta holds. They wouldn't be able to benefit from Kau'yon, which I popped with the Commander, but I needed their damage output to maximize the alpha strike. I spread the markerlights around on the Keels, landing 3-3-2, with the two being on the Raker. So everyone would be re-rolling 1s, D missiles would fire at normal Ballistic Skill and no penalties for movement on heavy weapons or advancing with assault weapons. Sweet. I ended up firing everything at the Keels that could and overkilled the last one with just a single wound overage. My opponent burned a command point to reroll a 6+ save at one point, but being limited to one of the same Stratagem per phase, there was little he could do. The Stormsurge with Advanced Targeting is nasty because all those shots that normally do not have a rend value now do. The D missiles are a bit underwhelming but with a Command Point re-roll I was able to wound with 3 and cause 5 mortal wounds. I rolled spectacularly with my Crisis suits, whose fusion did most of the work inside the 12" -1 to hit bubble of the Keels. I charged Farsight into the closest unit of Stealths rolling a 9 and decided what the heck and charged the Crisis in as well, rolling a 10. The dice gods seemed to be with the Enclaves today. His overwatch did nothing and I killed two Stealth suits, whiffing pretty hard with Farsight (I forgot that Farsight can re-roll 1s to hit in combat, doh!) He was hoping to fail his morale, because then with consolidation there would be just one unit in front of my Warlord. But alas, he rolled a 2 and held. Dice gods indeed.
Empire Turn 1:
My opponent took the shift of fate pretty well, but he mused that it was probably over. I tried to buck him up, because after all he could still deny me a major victory by killing Farsight. He retreated Shadowsun and the remaining Stealths and drones, screening her with as many models as he could. He used his armor to take 4 wounds off the Stormsurge but a 4+ invulnerable save is realllllly good. It should have been a lot more but with a Command Point Re-roll making a clutch save on one of the Railguns, there wasn't as much bite from the tanks as we expected. The combat with Farsight and friends resolved with the final Stealth suit falling to the Crisis, with Farsight forgetting his centuries of martial prowess today. Still, the Empire was now playing a fully defensive game.
Pressing the Attack:
Enclaves Turn 2:
I spent all my shooting trying to get rid of the Stealth suits and Stealth drones around Shadowsun but believe it or not my army could not get through all that -1 to hit! Enough remained so that I could not target Shadowsun with those nasty fusion blasters so I resorted to a charge. I dealt 2 wounds with the Dawn Blade and when it was her turn to activate, Shadowsun fell back. Now Farsight was the one hung out to dry. Ugh. I should have moved 8" and advanced....back towards my own line. The problem is, that isn't cinematic haha. I had to see if Farsight could slay her by his own hand; that would have been amazing.
The Patient Hunter:
Empire Turn 2:
Now with his own chance to smell blood,, my opponent re-positioned to deal a killing blow to Farsight and his lonely unit of Crisis screening for him. In the end, it was Shadowsun who slew Farsight by her own hand with two deadly fusion shots to the head after two failed invulnerable saves and a third after a Command re-roll. A Major Victory was now beyond my grasp, once again, because I was impetuous. I was leaning in a little too much to the personality of my general. The Patient Hunter strikes again!
Avenge Our Leader:
Enclaves Turn 3:
The Breachers finally got to hop out and lay some pain. Generally speaking, I tried to spread my damage around across all the Empire infantry units to cause failed morale tests and add more casualties in that phase. Everything essentially having Split Fire now is very powerful. This generally worked as the only things left were a Stealth Drone and 4 Pathfinders. I even charged my Devilfish in to wipe out a unit of Pathfinders! Hilarious that you can do this now. I just try to imagine they're getting run over, instead of slapped with some type of sensor node. My Breachers were exposed but due to the two failed morale checks they helped cause (I spread their shots over both Strike units) I think it was a good trade.
Empire Turn 3:
The Breachers got wiped by a volley and charge by the remaining Pathfinders. I love that Tau find themselves charging a lot in 8th. Because you go first, it's a cool and cinematic way to add that last casualty or two that could force a failed morale check. The armor piled some more wounds on the Surge, and Shadowsun nearly slagged the Devilfish, but we ended up calling it.
I had 9 Kill Points remaining to the Empire's 4 (or, Victory Points as they're simply called now). I think it could have been very close had we gone to the end because if the tanks lived long enough, they might have been able to wipe out my small drone and firewarrior units in the back. Still, we decided I too would probably score one or two more which would put the likely final score at about 11-9. A surprisingly close game given my opponent's horrible luck at the outset; he recovered well and I was foolish to leave Farsight out there in the wind. Leading from the front is cool and all, but in a mission in which protecting your general was paramount, I let him do too much.
Consequences for Game 4:
Another Victory Like This One and We'll be Cooked: The Farsight Enclaves may choose the deployment map for Game 4.
Some 8th edition thoughts:
Tau shooting is still devastating, if not more so. Fusion Blasters are absolutely terrifying. We actually don't need to get as close as we once did for them to be effective. Rolling 2d6 instead of 1 and picking the highest for damage is good, but I'm not sure it's worth staying in half range. They're good enough with the single d6, and if you roll a 1 for damage, you may choose to burn your command reroll for that phase on a new damage roll. Split Fire on everything is a huge improvement for an army like Tau, who basically surrender two phases of the game (psychic and assault). Speaking of assault, you will find yourself charging all. the. time. Especially with units with the "FLY" keyword, who can fall back and still shoot. So Stealths, Crisis, Keels, Commanders, et cetera can hide in combat without penalty against other shooting units. Sure, you're not going to do this with Berzerkers, but against many units, you're better off charging into combat and falling back when it's your turn to activate. Also, Command Points. My initial thought was to try to squeeze a brigade detachment into 2000 to maximize them but I didn't feel like I needed more than I had. Perhaps that's because we called the game early, but still, I'm not sure it would be worth leaving the Stormsurge at home for 6 Command Points.
Things that got better: Crisis, Commanders, Broadsides, Hammerheads, Pathfinders
Things that stayed roughly the same: Stormsurge (Lost Stomp but gained resiliency at about the same points cost).
Things that got worse: Markerlights. Ugh, we knew a nerf was probably coming but wow, you cannot depend on them anymore. Granted, our markerlight sources got cheaper as well, but I would have liked a 6th hit to grant twin-linked. I think it's still important to have a few sources of marker support, but overall they're just not what that once were. Perhaps that will help them stay alive, as I think they got bumped down the target priority ladder.
Alright, I'm going to wait on game 4 until the 8th edition rules for Forgeworld units are released. In fact, it's essential because game 4 will be 2500 points and I can't get there intelligently without my Forgeworld suits haha.
Until then, good luck out there in this brave new world of 8th.