Fight Club – Tau Versus Necrons



This Battle Report is the first in a series from our local club. Hopefully there is some value to seeing the brilliant tactics (lol!) or more likely “should have been” moments that are so much easier to see in hindsight.   This first matchup is actually a grudge match of sorts between myself and a great local Tau player named Lukas.  Now Lukas is not only a really good player but also a brilliant painter who won our “best painted” award at our annual club championship event, which is a two day 40k tourney which had 36 players this past year!  The reason this is a bit of a grudge match is we tried to do up a battle report the week previous between his tau and my chaos, and I was basically 95% tabled at the top of my turn TWO.  So yeah, did I mention that Lukas’ tau list is no joke?

So this time we decided I’d bring a more competitive list rather than the list I tried the first time. We play a number of different scenarios at our club and for this report we tried out one of the ITC scenarios from the 2016 season.  We drew Scenario 1 which is dawn of war deployment, emperor’s will primary, modified maelstrom as secondary and tertiary points for Big Game Hunter, Linebreaker and Slay the Warlord.

On to the lists!

Lukas Tau

Retaliation Cadre:

Commander: puretide engram neurochip, shield generator Stimulant injector, vectored retro-thrusters, iridium battlesuit.

Riptide: Early warning override, ion accelerator, shield generator

Crisis battlesuits:

A unit of two with double fusion blasters

A unit of one with double plasma rifles

A unit of one with double flamers

Broadside battlesuits:

3 broadsides with missle pods, target locks and six missile drones

Combined Arms Detachment:


10 kroot

11 kroot

12 fire warriors

6 Pathfinders

6 Pathfinders

XV109 Y’Vahra Battlesuit – Early warning override, ionic discharge cannon, phased plasma-flamer, shield generator, stimulant injector.

KV128 Stormsurge: Early warning override, shield generator, twin-linked burst cannon, smart missiles, cluster rockets, 4x destroyer missiles.

So basically the formation lets him deep strike everything in it on turn two automatically with additional BS the first turn and gives those broadsides relentless. Ouch!



Jack’s super friendly Necrons (honest!)

Decurion detachment:


10 warriors

10 warriors

5 immortals

3 tomb blades with ignore cover blasts

Destroyer cult:

Destroyer lord with warscythe

3 destroyers with heavy destroyer

3 destroyers with heavy destroyer

3 destroyers with heavy destroyer

3 heavy destroyers

Canoptek Harvest:

Canoptek spyder

3 scarabs

6 wraiths (3 with whip coils)

Canoptek Harvest:

Canoptek spyder

3 scarabs

6 wraiths (3 with whip coils)

Okay, so it’s not exactly going to win me any friends, but like I said, Lukas and I were going for a competitive game and my list the week before just couldn’t cut it! For those that are unaware, this gave me a 4+ reanimation protocols, rerolling 1’s in a bubble around the overlord, the destroyers can reroll to wound/pen and the spyder can give the wraiths and scarabs reanimation.



My pre-game thoughts

Lukas’ list is not to be underestimated, and I had been given a brutal thrashing the week previous with it. The broadside + buffmander unit puts out an insane amount of firepower and with deep strike he can put it wherever he needs. The stormsurge is the big thing I need to tie up early.  If it gets to shoot for the entire game it will cause me untold headaches.

This tau list is very mobile for the most part, countering a lot of anti-tau tactics, especially for a rush list. I knew that I would likely need to redeploy my army part way through the game to counter the retaliation cadre threat and thus Lukas could control where my army needed to go mid-game.

Lukas’ pre-game thoughts:

Coming back after the successful routing of the deamonic incursion of last Saturday, my Tau were feeling confident. I knew Shannon was bringing Necrons to the fight this week, but I kept my list almost unchanged, with the exception of swapping some points around to put the Ion Accelerator on my Riptide. The plan was to set up a small firebase around the Stormsurge. The two squads of pathfinders would take hunker down in whatever cover was available, one squad to a table corner.

My favorite Tau unit, an XV109 Y’vahra would take a flank, his high mobility allowing him to react to threats. The large firewarrior squad and Ethereal would take the opposite flank, and the two squads of Kroot would act as bubble wrap for the larger suits to start the game. Turn two, the Retribution cadre jumps in to take board control and split the enemy’s attention. The broadside unit with the commander unload an unholy amount of TL s7 ap4 on anything that moves, with my choice of monster or tank hunter. They then get to mosey around the board at full combat effectiveness due to relentless. The riptide harries and annoys whatever it can and tries to be hard to be a hard to kill bullet sponge.


necrondeploymentI won the role for first turn and my warlord trait was the ability to make three of Lukas’ units take a pinning test at the start of the game. Lukas’ warlord trait was the one that gave him a single turn of rerolling 1’s within 12” of his warlord (kinda “meh”).

I spread out with the wraiths at the starting line ready to rush forward, destroyers trying to keep cover and my entire Decurion basically working at their sole job – don’t die and keep objectives!


In addition to the two emperor’s will objective we each had to place another objective at least 18” away from our board edge for maelstrom objective 1 and 2 respectively. We went with the ITC rule of scoring maelstrom at the top of your next turn, which I like as it gives your opponent a chance to counter.

The tau only deployed the CAD portion of the list, keeping far back from the necrons with a bubble wrap of kroot, relying on the retaliation cadre to… well… retaliate on turn two!

The tau attempted to seize. I held my breath. But luckily for me I didn’t get seized on. This is crucial when playing the canoptek harvest, as there’s no reanimation until the first movement phase, so those spyders would have been prime targets early on.




My warlord trait caused the unit of fire warriors to be pinned!

Necron Turn ONE:  Necron:0       Tau: 0

As expected I used the spyders to give reanimation to my scarabs and wraiths and rushed everything forward, waving my metal tentacles in a very scary manner. I rolled for maelstrom having three of my units and none of my opponents’ in my deployment zone (easy!) and kill a unit (easy-ish?).

I attempted to shoot up some easy kills (kroot and fire warriors) with the destroyers to force some break tests and hopefully gain my maelstrom point, however everyone decided to stick around. My heavy destroyers tried to ping some early wounds off the stormsurge… so yeah that didn’t work!



Tau Turn ONE:       Necron: 0      Tau: 0

Lukas rolled for maelstrom having three units in his deployment and killing a unit.

I gritted my teeth and prepared for the stormsurge to unload, which he did on the wraiths. However luck (and reanimation protocols!) was with me and only two wraiths died. Lukas knew full well what those tomb blades would be doing to his pathfinders and other squishy units that relied on cover so the Y’vahra and kroot melted them into slag. (netting a maelstrom) The pinned fire warriors managed to get a couple wounds on the scarabs which were aiming to charge them next turn.

(wow that was lucky, I thought those wraiths were going to be in a lot more trouble from the stormsurge – however with the retaliation cadre, the first turn vs. tau isn’t nearly as damaging – it’s the beta strike you have to watch out for!)



Necron Turn TWO:  Necron: 1      Tau:0

I scored the deployment zone maelstrom but was unable to kill a unit. I rolled both “destroy an enemy unit”. Figured I was in pretty good shape for this one as there were some juicy targets in range.

Lukas still had some good bubble wrap going on to try and keep the wraiths away from the stormsurge, so the destroyers went to work making holes. Unfortunately the kroot decided to stick around blocking one flank meaning only the depleted wraiths had a chance to make it in. I managed to pull off a multi-charge on kroot and the stormsurge while the unwounded wraith unit decided to rip apart just the kroot unit (as they couldn’t reach the stormsurge) The kroot were wiped but the stormsurge was absolutely fine.

Meanwhile scarabs made the charge into the ethereal and fire warrior unit (where they would be forever!) and into one of the pathfinder units hiding in cover. Pretty much the only thing I could kill this turn was kroot other than minimal casualties in the other scarab combats which didn’t results in any of the tau running away!


Tau Turn TWO: Necron: 1 Tau: 1

Lukas scores destroy a unit (tomb blades) but I’m in his deployment zone now, so he doesn’t score the other. He rolls to hold objective 1 and kill a unit. Given this is the big beta strike turn he looks in good shape.

Whelp, here it comes! The deep strikes were all fairly successful, with a few scatters not going as completely planned but no mishaps! The flamer suit landed near the warriors, the fusion suits by the spyder, the broadsides with buffmander on the flank by destroyers and the riptide in my backfield.

The flamer suit managed to only kill two warriors, and the fusion suits a single wound on the spyder (yay reanimation!) The Y’vahra also aimed at the spyder and got another wound off it. The riptide unfortunately did zero wounds with his shooting immortals thanks to cover and reanimation.

In what I can only describe as some sort of C’tan divine intervention the buffed up broadsides unloaded with a million shots against a unit of destroyers. I’m sure it was a million. There was a lot.  This resulted in just over 20 wounds I needed to save. The result was only one destroyer dead and a wound on his buddy.

In combat the scarabs broke the pathfinders and ran them down gaining me my second maelstrom. In the wraith vs. stormsurge combat, I managed to get a single wound on the stormsurge however lost two full wraiths to stomps leaving only two wraiths in the squad.



Necron Turn THREE: Necron 3 Tau: 1

I scored both my “kill a unit” objectives and rolled to hold maelstrom 1 and to destroy a unit.

At this point I realize that although every other army I own is deathly afraid of buffmander+broadside units and I need to devote an inordinate amount of resources into taking them out, Necron Decurion (at least the multiple wound T5 variety) just doesn’t care. This switches tactics for me completely, as now I can push forward at the rest of his army and not have to take on this unit right away. Lukas had landed the unit to force me to shift to the flank due to the outright devastation it normally causes.

I managed to put a wound on the plasma suit with destroyers, plink a couple wounds off the riptide and kill the flamer suit. The spyder failed his charge versus the kroot holding objective 1 but at least the scarabs got close, but are not objective secured so the Tau still hold it.

The unwounded wraith squad charged into the stormsurge combat and with the destroyer lord’s help manage to score four wounds on the GMC. Stomps were pretty terrible this turn and I only lost a single wound on a wraith.


Tau Turn THREE: Necron 3 Tau: 2

Lukas scored objective 1 thanks to my spyder tripping on a rock, however much to both of our surprise he did not kill those destroyers with the broadsides, nor the spyder, nor the immortals – all seemed to be easy targets. Lukas again rolls objective 1 and to destroy a unit. Seems like we’re going to be both battling over objective 1 this turn!

Lukas killed the scarabs trying to hang out near objective 1, the riptide killed the spyder. The broadsides shot up the heavy destroyers, but barely scratched them. The plasma suit continued to whittle down the destroyer unit near him. The wraiths and destroyer lord finished off the stormsurge in this combat. The scarabs continued to whifflebat the firewarriors and ethereal unit in an epic slapfight!


Necron Turn FOUR: Necron: 4 Tau:2

I didn’t score objective 1 given the Y’vahra was still there, but I scored my kill a unit with the stormsurge going down. I rolled having a unit within 12” of my opponent’s deployment edge and destroy a unit.

The heavy destroyers finished off the riptide, the plasma suit fell to a regular destroyer unit. The small wraith squad charged and killed the fusion suits while the large unit charged and killed the Y’vahra.

Things are looking grim indeed for the Tau.


Tau Turn FOUR: Necron: 4 Tau: 3

Lukas scores the kill a unit objective, but objective 1 is now buried under wraiths. He rolls having a scoring unit within 12” of my board edge and destroy an enemy unit.

The buffmander unit fires at the wraiths but only kills one. The scarabs vs. ethereal fight wades on, with all the firewarriors gone and the ethereal going man-mode!


Necron Turn FIVE: Necron:6 Tau: 3

I scored both my maelstrom objectives and this turn spelled the end of the tau. The destroyers finally remember what the primary objective was and shot up the pathfinders and made them run off the board (remember what I said about tactical hindsight at the top!) The scarabs drag down the ethereal and the wraiths and destroyer lord rip the broadsides and buffmander to pieces.

Win to the necrons.



Lukas’ after battle thoughts

Ouch! Shannon certainly got his revenge! Going second is always a tough proposition for Tau, as losing that round of shooting while all of Shannon’s gribbly goons rushed up the field really hurts. Pinning my large firewarrior squad with his warlord trait at the top of the game (at ld10 from the Ethereal no less!) also hampered my weak right flank to near useless. The stormsurge wiffed his only round of shooting in the game, but held his own in combat until the second units of Wraiths with the destroyer lord showed up. A couple more lucky stomps may have turned that combat around for me, but they weren’t in the dice. mvptau

I got very lucky with my deepstrike roles, as I usually tend to place very aggressively. Shannon did a great job spreading his units out and having great board control within two turns. There was no glaringly obvious weak points to take advantage of.

After talking with Shannon, it may have been better to deepstrike more of my forces on the right flank to bolster that line and try to get through his squishier troops. The poorest showing was the Broadside team, managing to put a single wound on two separate destroyers after 2 rounds of shooting. They topped it off by getting murdered by the Wraith blender and getting run over in a sweeping advance. This unit usually does a heck of a lot for me, but against 3+ 4++ reanimation T5 troops, they couldn’t get enough wounds through.

The Y’vahra continues to shine, doing quite a bit of damage before being dragged down with his comrades. The assault 2 s6 ap2 half torrent flamer is bananas, though not as effective against ‘Crons who get the 4+ anyways. Overall, a very enjoyable, if harrowing, game

My After battle thoughts

wraithpileinWhat this came down to was I was able to tie up the stormsurge early, and the dreaded buffmander unit just didn’t really accomplish much of anything. A lot of firepower was wrapped up in these two units.

With the broadsides I think this time I got lucky for certain, but also Decurion necrons are just disgustingly resilient against shooting that still allows all of their saves.  I think if it would have been shooty necrons vs. shooty tau the tau would have taken it due to range and better guns; however the wraiths and scarabs did a lot of work early tying up key units which took a lot of the teeth out of the Tau firepower.  Lukas then had to rely on the retaliation cadre and the Y’vahra to carry things.

To be honest, I think canoptek harvest plus Decurion is a little too harsh. I really like wraiths so they’ll still be present. I’m likely dropping the Decurion though.  It’s just too much.

full picture selection from the battle can be found here:

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That turn 1 when the Wraiths came through virtually unscathed was the game changer for sure. If you can’t take down Wraiths quick and early, especially for an army like Tau, then it’s game over.


Awesome job on the report. I fought vs Tau last week with a more aggressive list and it was curtains for me! I also like your use of the words role vs roll. Its seemed appropriate in the end!