This time the mission was The Scouring, on a Hammer and Anvil deployment. Since we were playing on square boards, we just did from the easy table edges.
Pat's list was:
6 Stealth Suits - Shas'vre with Target Lock and ML
2 x 12 Fire Warriors - Shas'ui with Target Lock and ML
6 Fire Warriors - Shas'ui with Target Lock
My list can be found here.
Pat won the roll to deploy first and set about putting a 12 man Fire Warrior Squad in ruins on his objectives in either corner, with his Pathfinders in the middle ruin on that objective. The 6 man Fire Warrior squad deployed just in front of the ruins on my left with the Ethereal, and the Hammerhead took the clearing on my Right. He infiltrated his Stealth Suits, opting for the ruin I gave him when I deployed with a refused flank.
I deployed my entire force on my right, entirely out of range of the Fire Warriors on the left unless they left the ruin. My objectives were placed in the ruin on my right, on the crash in the middle, and on the right side of the ruin toward the middle of my deployment zone.
After deployment, as we began turn 1, we revealed the 4 objectives being claimed. All three of Pat's were Scatterfields, while my one objective was sabotaged - good start. Pat moved the small Firewarriors and Ethereal forward, using Zephyr's grace to allow them to run and snap fire. The Stealth suits also jumped forward, revealing the leftmost objective on my side to also be sabotaged. In the shooting phase he opened fire, with the Warp Spiders taking much of the wrath coming their way, getting whittled down to two, with the exarch and 1 warp spider. The Dire Avengers took a bunch of fire from the Stealth suits, but one survived by being out of range of the unit. Both units passed their morale checks and it was on to my turn.
I moved the Warp Spiders and promptly rolled double 5s for their movement, seeing the Exarch again sucked into the warp. The remaining Warp Spider promptly lost his nerve and ran, after landing on the middle, four-point objective, revealing that to also be sabotaged (are you kidding me with this?). The Falcon moved out and prepared to fire on the Hammerhead. I mistakenly thought the Pulse Laser had the Lance rule, and probably should have gone all out so that it would be close to the hammer head when it was inevitably blown up. I managed one glance on the hammerhead, but it was saved with a jink. The two units of guardians, one of which moved and ran to close the gap with the stealth suits, opened up and took out three of the six, but not nearly good enough. My Farseer tried to Mind War the ethereal, but Pat rolled a 6 to Deny.
Turn 2 saw more of the same; the small fire warrior squad and ethereal moved up along with the stealth suits, while the Hammerhead glided over to maintain his jink. The hammerhead promptly blew up the Falcon, claiming first blood, and the ensuing explosion took out the hapless Warp Spider running away. A lot of fire went the way of the guardians, killing off all but two of the guardians, who apparently were hiding behind the weapons platform, which saved four wounds in a row.
In my turn, the surviving guardians made for the central objective, along with the lone Dire Avenger, they both fired at the Fire Warriors and ethereal, cutting down four of the FireWarriors. The Farseer then tried to mind war the Tau leader and suffered a Perils wound (being the third power he cast that turn, he couldn't use his Ghost Helm). The Firedragons booked it for the Hammerhead and managed to just get in range, but failed to damage the tank. My turn ended with my sabotaged objective exploding and wounding two guardians, who made their fortune-enhanced saves.
Turn 3 saw the Pathfinders and hammerhead concentrate fire on the Firedragons, leaving only the Exarch standing. The fire warriors and stealth suits poured fire at the two troop units in the middle, killing the Dire Avenger finally. The blessed guardians went to ground and miraculously survived.
I was hoping to hear time called on this turn as I was crouched precariously on the 4 point objective, leaving me down only one point with a chance to take the lead at the bottom of the turn if the Fire Dragon exarch got lucky and managed to run to contest an objective. As it was the Fire Dragon first tried to blow up the damnable Hammerhead, which jink saved both penetrating hits I managed. The farseer got Mind War off on the Ethereal who again managed to Deny the Witch. Unfortunately, that turn didn't take long and the game would go on (which, in hindsight was fair - last time I played Pat we played a turn further and he went from losing by 1 to losing by 12).
This turn saw the remaining two guardians predictably killed, and the small fire warrior squad ran up to claim the four-point objective. Meanwhile, the rest of the army fired on my sole guardian squad remaining, killing about half the squad. My turn was predictably short, though I did kill the two fire Warriors on the 4-point objective.
Final Score: Tau 8 (1, 2, and 3, point objectives, first blood, and a Fast Attack kill), Eldar 3 (1 3-point objective).
As I mentioned before, I was worried about playing Pat again, but this time, despite getting trounced pretty soundly, I had a much more enjoyable time. His sportsmanship was much improved, and he even apologized for how skewed the dice rolls seemed to go. I suppose it's easier to be a good sport when you win, but he genuinely acted more mature all day (he's still a teenager).
I ended up placing 4th of 4 players. Despite that, each game was closer than it appeared at the end. That said, I think I learned a good bit about what did and didn't work about this list. My squads are probably too small in general, and I don't have anything tough that can stand any real amount of fire coming its way besides a Concealed Guardian unit, preferably with Fortune (I was also incredibly lucky to get Fortune all three games). I also felt a little hampered by my lack of mobility and long range fire. I think this list would be ok against an offensive force that tried coming toward me, but it really suffers against a foe who wants to hang back.
Some changes I think I would make are adding in the Swooping Hawks to get me some mobile fire and better ranged (relatively) anti-infantry. To cover their cost at this point level, I would probably drop the Fire Dragons and swap the Starcannons for Bright Lances. I might also try to add in a Wraithlord as a mobile and tough weapons platform. I would also consider adding a second Farseer.
If I were to add some units, I might consider replacing the second guardian squad or Dire Avengers with some Ranger units to get a little more ranged threat, maybe bumping up the one Guardian squad's numbers. I love the Warp Spiders, but I think I might need more, which might start pushing them to the point of being too expensive for this force.
Lastly, I think I could benefit from holding some things in reserve. Everything in the open got shot to pieces very quickly, and I usually didn't have enough cover to hold my entire force. Bringing some things in later could mitigate that, particularly if they have good speed or can deep strike like the Swooping Hawks.