Tau Hunter Cadre with Fire Warriors, drones, Devilfish APCs and a unit of Pathfinders
An Ork Warband moves to attack
Hammerheads look for enemy targets from a hill
Note that Epic/Space Marine rules were awesome too - I just think the different vehicles/capabilities/special abilities had got way, way out of hand and it became pretty slow and hard to play because of the multitudes of exceptions and special rules (sound like any other system? I digress...). Whatever the reason, the GW guys purged the Augean stables of Space Marine and came out with a game system that used blast markers, flexible detachments, abstracted firing and army morale to create something pretty cool. The endless special rules were replaced with more abstract and subtle abilities that required careful play in order to exploit. And the icing on the cake - it was sold in a box, complete with ALL the army lists, and TWO armies to start! Now THAT takes me back...
Anyway, to the game: the scenario was a meeting engagement, between an Ork army with two warbands, one Kult of Speed and a pair of Ork Battlefortresses. The Tau for their part featured four different Cadres - two of infantry in Devilfish with assorted drones and Pathfinders for support, one made up of Hammerheads with railguns (oh yeah!) and a rather lethal and mobile cadre of Crisis suits, backed by Broadside suits and Stealth Suits. Brian and I played the Tau, and Mike F took the Orks.
The Ork Kult of Speed prepares to go out with a bang...
The key to most "Epic 40,000" games is army morale - as your detachments break, the morale of the army decreases, and if you hit "0", you're done. All of sorts of things add to this - the blast markers on your army in each morale phase, a war engine going out in spectacular fashion, different objectives being taken, lost, etc. In other words, the rate at which your army morale decreases is not necessarily exactly aligned to the rate at which you take casualties - in fact, it can materially exceed it.
Ork boyz contemplate the flaming death of their Kult of Speed...
Mike F learned about this the hard way, when he advanced his Kult of Speed out in front (which of course they would do) and into a close assault! I gulped a bit, as the Tau generally do poorly in close assault, but I was saved by lucky (for me)/ unlucky (for Mike F) dice rolling! We tied the first roll, and on the second, Mike rolled the "Scottish Number" and I came up with a "6". The Tau slaughtered the Orks, placing a pile of blast markers on the enemy detachment AND breaking them...the horrific combined effect of this (lots and lots of blast markers plus breaking) took Mike's army morale from 21 down to 5 or so, reflecting the impact that the complete destruction of the Kult had on the other Ork Boyz!
Tau Hunter Cadre moves on to a hill
Fire from the Ork Kans and Stompas broke one of the Tau Hunter Cadres
Thanks to drones, the Tau are able to hold their position under Ork fire
Betrayal by the dice was a common theme for Mike for the rest of the game. He tried to pull the Tau into position where he could make a stronger attack, and fire from his dreads, boyz and Stompas did break one of the hunter Cadres. But as his morale clicked down (and he had bad luck with rally rolls), he had to make a final charge, and Brian moved in with the Crisis suit detachment at just the right time to lay a horrible licking on one of the last Ork warbands.
Brian's crisis suits eliminate the enemy, delivering a coup de grace to the Orks - note the blast markers in the backround...
In the end, it was a Tau win - the Ork army morale dipped to "0", while the Tau still had 7 points left. I have to give credit to Brian for playing the suits very well, and to character - letting the Fire Warriors soak up the abuse, and then dropping in for the kill. And clearly I don't think the Tau would be so lucky again now that Mike has a better feel for the "Epic 40:000" rules! It could have gone either way with the assault by the Kult of Speed for sure.
Thanks to Mike and Brian for coming by, and providing me with another opportunity to further "amortize" my Epic Tau.