Ignoring Cover with Tau Smart Missile Systems

June 26, 2009 · 14 comments

I've been thinking about Tau Smart Missile Systems for a while. In 4th edition smart missile systems were brilliant, because you could simply hide all your tanks and pepper people with a mass of smart missiles.

Because they fly around terrain, your targets never got a cover save unless they were actually IN cover. However, in 5th edition where everyone seems to be constantly firing through cover, people have been getting cover saves against smart missile systems because they're firing 'through cover' when before they didn't.

I just accepted that this was the way things would be until there was another Tau FAQ or a new Tau Codex...

...until Raptor 1313 replied to one of my Imperial Guard battle reports stating:

"Page 27: the target can count the benefits of the cover they are in, or are touching it if it lies between them and the firer."

Now, everyone take out your Tau Empire Codex and find page 27.

Here is the exact wording from the Codex (sorry GW, but important rules are at stake!)

Tau Smart Missile System Rules

The smart missile system fires self-guiding missiles with the intelligence of a drone, which first search for then hunt down the target, passing around any blocking terrain.

The smart missile system can engage any target in range regardless of whether there is a line of sight to it or not. The target can count the benefits of cover they are in, or are touching if it lies between them and the firer.

Ignoring the bit of fluff (because sometimes this is contradictory) and sticking to the second paragraph, which is pure rules, it states that:

  • you don't need line of sight to your target
  • your target gets a cover save if they are INSIDE or TOUCHING cover that lies between them and firer.
  • No it cannot shoot passengers inside a tank! Although if you want to be a Rules Lawyer and lose all your friends, give it a try.

  • Preparing for Apocalypse

    June 25, 2009 · 6 comments

    Tonight I've sat down and worked out my Tau Apocalypse army. Never played Apocalypse before and so it's taken quite a bit of planning. If you are going to play Apocalypse, I must strongly recommend that you sit down with a pencil, paper and ruler and work out how your armies are going to play.

    If James and I hadn't spent an evening doing this last month, we would have been really disappointed on the day. This is because my Tau army had no chance of winning. And by that, I mean there would be nothing I could do to stop James from murdering me in Apocalypse due to the Apocalypse deployment zones.

    The problem lies in the Dark Angels Ravenwing, because in Apocalypse, they can react to however an opponent deploys. To make matters worse, Apocalypse deployment forces you to deploy in a corner. This creates 2 senarios which make the Ravenwing truly devastating.

    1) Tau win the roll, deploy first and go first.
    Ravenwing all outflank. This then forces the Tau army to go up against their table edge (which is the side of the table) in a vain attempt to stop units from coming on. As a result, the Tau army cannot move for the whole game without suffering horrific losses from Outflanking units with melta guns or multimeltas blowing up tanks and cutting down their battlesuits en masse in close combat.

    2) Dark Angels win the rolls, deploy first and go first.
    The Ravenwing set up on the edge of the 24" No Man's Land and use their Scout move to Turbo Boost across it. Due to the triangular deployment zone in the corner, the Tau have nowhere to hide and will be hit with a plethora of melta guns and multimeltas on turn 1 and once again, suffer horrific losses.

    Obviously, this would make for a really boring game. Especially as James is looking to field his entire Dark Angels army for fun and I'm interested to see if an army which required careful micromanaging can work on a grand scale.

    So, we've adapted the Apocalypse rules to suit us. So we've taken the 6 objective markers from the Apocalypse rules, 1 Strategem each and decided upon the Pitched Battle deployment from the Warhammer 40K rulebook but with bigger deployment zones as we're playing on a 6' x 8' table.

    This gives the Tau freedom to move about (which they need!), plenty of space for the Deathwing to deep strike and some nice open roads for the Ravenwing to zoom about on.

    It's going to be a battle on a grand scale with some proper moving about, objective grabbing and traditional Warhammer 40K tactics.

    Just to clarify, only 2 of us are playing on Saturday. This is because everyone we knew dropped out. I'm quite stunned. You offer people a great game with fully painting miniatures and all they have to do is turn up and play!

    Tau Apocalypse Army

    had to borrow 3000 points of my 4500 points Tau Apocalypse army, because I don't have enough stuff to face James's entire Dark Angels army. So, I've had to take my usual 1500 points Tau army (minus the twin linked flamer battle suits, because they're not painting), Simon's Tau army and Luke's Tau army.

    Simon's Tau army has laid abandoned since 4th edition. Luke's army has received a minor update since 5th edition. However, I have discovered why Luke has been losing so many games lately -his usual list came up around 100 points short!

    So while this isn't the best Tau Apocalypse list in the world, it's the best I could come up with considering what I've got to hand.

    Tau Battlesuit Command Team:
    Tau Shas'O:Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Flamer, Multitracker, Iridium Armour, Stim Injector, Hardwired Drone Controller with 2 shield drones
    Tau Shas’el: Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Multitracker
    2 Bodyguards with Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Hardwired Multitracker, Targeting Array

    Tau Battlesuit Command Team:
    Tau Shas’el: Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Multitracker, Hardwired Drone Controller with 2 shield drones
    2 Bodyguards with Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Hardwired Multitracker, Targeting Array

    Tau Battlesuit Command Team:
    Tau Shas’el: Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Multitracker, Hardwired Drone Controller with 2 shield drones
    2 Bodyguards with Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Hardwired Multitracker, Targeting Array

    Tau Battlesuit Command Team:
    Tau Shas’el: Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Multitracker, Hardwired Drone Controller with 2 shield drones
    2 Bodyguards with Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Hardwired Multitracker, Targeting Array

    Tau Battlesuit Team:
    Team Leader: Burst Cannon, Missile Pod, Multitracker, Hardwired Drone Controller with 2 shield drones
    2 Battlesuits with Burst Cannon, Missile Pod, Multitracker

    6 Stealth Suits
    targeting arrays

    4 Stealth Suits
    targeting arrays

    3 Stealth Suits
    targeting arrays

    3 Stealth Suits
    targeting arrays

    6 man Fire warrior Team
    Devilfish with Smart Missile System, Targeting Array, Multitracker, Disruption Pod

    6 man Fire warrior Team
    Devilfish with Smart Missile System, Targeting Array, Multitracker, Disruption Pod

    6 man Fire warrior Team
    Devilfish with Smart Missile System, Targeting Array, Multitracker, Disruption Pod

    6 man fire warrior team
    team leader with marker light

    6 man fire warrior team
    team leader with marker light

    6 man fire warrior team
    team leader with marker light

    6 man fire warrior team
    team leader with marker light

    6 man fire warrior team
    team leader with marker light

    6 man fire warrior team
    team leader with marker light

    6 man fire warrior team
    team leader with marker light

    Hammerhead with Railgun, 2 Burst Cannons, Multitracker, Disruption Pod, black sun filter

    Hammerhead with Railgun, Smart Missile System, Target Lock, Multitracker, Disruption Pod, black sun filter

    Hammerhead with Railgun, Smart Missile System, Target Lock, Multitracker, Disruption Pod, black sun filter

    Skyray with 2 Burst Cannons, Target Lock, Targeting Array, Multitracker and Disruption Pod, black sun filter

    Skyray with Smart Missile System, Target Lock, Targeting Array, Multitracker and Disruption Pod, black sun filter

    2 man Broadside Team with advanced stabilization
    Leader, Hardwired Drone Controller with 2 shield drones

    2 man Broadside Team with advanced stabilization
    Leader, Hardwired Drone Controller with 2 shield drones

    2 man Broadside Team with advanced stabilization
    Leader, Hardwired Drone Controller with 2 shield drones

    James has effectively split his Dark Angels into 3 detachments: Dark Angels, Deathwing and Ravenwing. I may have to do the same.

    Right now I'm thinking of keeping Broadsides up the back, a tank wall up front, which advances with the Tau Battlesuits following from behind. In the middle (following the Battlesuits) will be the mass of Tau Firewarriors with markerlights on foot.

    If James attacks from the front, the Battlesuits jump shoot, jump over the tanks.
    If he comes from the sides, the markerlight Tau Firewarriors light up any flanking units for the Battlesuits and Broadsides.

    If all is going well (which would make a nice change) then everything can spread out to maximise the firing lanes and keep everything firing.

    Whatever happens, it's going to be a lot of fun.
    Orbital Bombardment is James's Strategem card.
    I chose the one that lets all units shoot a single enemy target on 2+ for a single turn. I'll use it as my back up for a unit that absolutely MUST DIE during the heat of the battle.

    James has many advantages over me in this game. Let's see if some traditional Tau tactics can overcome his forgiving army.

    Tau VS Dark Angels

    June 19, 2009 · 4 comments

    June 19, 2009

    This week I've been busy painting Space Wolves, so I watched Luke and James play a game. Luke had his jungle camo Tau and James had his new Dark Angels space marine army.

    This game of Tau VS Dark Angels was interesting to watch, not only because I could see how James's new army works in a game of objective grabbing, but also to see how Luke's 'fire power castle' army from 4th edition Warhammer 40K would fair in 5th edition.

    To be fair, Luke hasn't played my 5th edition 40K since the 2008 GT and then Carnage back in March. He's yet to abandon the notion that the Tau can outgun people and hold their ground. Sadly it just isn't true and as a result his force isn't particularly mobile. But considering how stuck in his ways he may be, he actually plays quite well in this game. The concept of reserves is still very alien to him, but I'm convinced that if he spent more time playing games and trying out new things, that he'd do a lot better.

    The same could be said for James, but he's playing Space Marines, which are a far more forgiving army.

    40K Batrep

    Game: Seize Ground
    Deployment: Pitched Battle
    Players: James, Dark Angels VS Luke, Tau Empire

    Luke's 1500 Points Tau Army
    Shas'el with plasma rifle, missile pod, multi tracker, 2 shield drones
    Bodyguard with plasma rifle, missile pod, multi tracker, 1 shield drone
    Bodyguard with plasma rifle, missile pod, multi tracker, 1 shield drone

    Tau Battlesuit team leader Bodyguard with plasma rifle, missile pod, multi tracker, 2 shield drones
    Tau Battlesuit with plasma rifle, missile pod, multi tracker
    Tau Battlesuit with plasma rifle, missile pod, multi tracker

    5 Stealth Suits with targeting array

    (X3) 6 firewarriors with team leader and bonding knife

    (X2) Tau Broadside team leader with advanced stabilisation, multi tracker, 2 shield drones
    Tau Broadside with advanced stabilisation

    Tau Hammerhead with ion cannon, smart missile system, multi tracker, disruption pod, target lock.

    James 1500 Points Dark Angels Army

    Chaplain (aka: The Cheese Vicar) with jump pack
    10 man assault squad: sgt with powerfist

    (X3) 5 marines: sgt with chainsword and boltpistol, melta gun
    5 marines: lascannon
    Razorback: win linked heavy bolter, extra armour

    (X2) 5 scouts: sniper rifles

    5 Devastators: 3 missile launchers

    SET UP:
    They rolled for the number of counters, getting a total of 3, which they proceeded to place around the centre. One in the open, about 24" from the board edge, anotherone in a building 24" on and the third in the centre, roughly 18" on from the board edge. I laughed, saying which board edge was obviously best...before James won the roll to go first and immediately chose that board edge and set up his entire army in a big line while his scouts infiltrated.

    In response Luke put everything in the right corner (miles away from the objectives) while his Stealth Suits would be infiltrating. I did suggest putting his entire force into reserve, but he was having none of it.

    The dark angels scouts deployed in the buildings flanking Luke's army for some first turn sniper shots. Luke deployed his Stealth Suits behind a building across from his main force, ready to shoot one of the scout squads on the first turn.

    TURN 1
    In typical James style, his whole army surged forward on to the objectives. Luke immobilised one of the transports and inflicted some damage on the Devastator squad while blowing the heavy bolters from one of the razorbacks. The scout squad near the Stealth Suits are wiped out. In return James immbolised the Hammerhead.

    TURN 2
    James continued his advance while the combat squads with heavy weapons moved to hold the objectives in following turns. Three of the space marine squads disembark. One rapid fires its plasma gun at the Tau Battlesuits to no effect. Another runs forward to rapid fire the Firewarriors in the building while the squad in the immobilised razorback disembark and charge the Firewarriors in the building, wiping them out.

    Under pressure and with the Assault Squad led by the Cheese Vicar closing in, Luke is forced to pull back, firing as he goes, inflicting more casualties on the Devastator squad, but finding his fire power ineffective against the advancing Razorbacks.

    TURN 3 & TURN 4
    Another turn of the Dark Angels advancing while the Tau retreat up the flank and finally the Razorbacks are all destroyed or immobilised. All 3 of the combat squads are wiped out and only the Assault Squad and Cheese Vicar remain, who hide behind an immobilised Razorback, ready to pounce. The Hammerhead is penetrated and destroyed by concentrated fire from the heavy weapon combat squads and the 3 remaining Devastators.

    TURN 5 & 6
    Luke continues to retreat, firing with little effect at the Assault Squad who gain cover saves against all of the rail gun slugs and plasma rifle shots that come their way and only lose 4 of their squad before hacking apart one of the Broadside teams in close combat.

    Luke is about to call the game, but I point out how he can attempt a draw, but the game ends on Turn 6.

    A bit of a quicker battle report write up than usual, but I wasn't playing, so I couldn't remember every single event.

    For me this was more about Luke's Tau army than James's Dark Angels army. But this is a Tau blog and I am a Tau player, so it's little surprise. Plus, I did help James to write his army list.

    As I've said before on this blog "He who sits in the corner, dies in the corner" and it couldn't be more true of Luke's army. However, he did start sweeping round, so perhaps there's hope for him yet.

    From Turn 2 onwards, James could have just sat on the objectives and let Luke try to dig him out. But, having played Tau before (usually my mechanised list), he knew to keep the pressure on and herd the Tau around the board with his faster moving units.

    It's in this area that Luke really suffered. Having deployed his army of slow infantry units in the corner, there was nowhere to run...well, there was, but only in 1 direction.

    Because his Firewarriors aren't in transports, they'll never reach objectives.

    And because he clumped everything together, James could simply steam his army towards him en masse.

    Luke had an entire board length to deploy across. By spreading out his army, James would in turn have to divide his army to reach him.

    Alternatively, Luke could have chosen to keep most of his army in reserve, then put each unit in an ideal place to counter whatever James was up to. But once again, mobility would be his biggest issue.

    I don't want to compare his Tau army list to mine, because I'll end up trying to say that my Tau list is perfect -which it isn't. But, the Stealth Suits were rubbish and for fewer points he could have taken a twin linked flamer and missile pod battlesuit team, which has proven to be far more effective.

    What I will say is that his army could have done with a couple of Markerlights to ensure that what he needed to kill at all costs actually took some damage. His Tau Battlesuits and Broadsides continually missed or did little damage due to cover saves throughout the game and it really hurt his performance.

    Warhammer 40K Gaming Board Tactics

    June 17, 2009 · 3 comments

    While Warhammer 40K may be about army tactics, it is also about Gaming Board Tactics. Knowing the measurements and the size of the board plays a big part in a game of Warhammer 40K, especially when it comes to maximising your movement, ensuring a 2nd Turn charge and even staying out of weapons range.

    So it's important to remember that the proper 6' X 4' Warhammer 40K gaming board is in fact 72" X 48".

    Know The Distance
    Remember that the board is 72" wide and 48" across. So, if your Eldar Vyper with its range 36" starcannon moves on 12" from the board edge, it will have full range to the back of your opponent's deployment zone, fully covering the 48" distance.

    Similarly, a Space Marine Landspeeder coming on from reserve can move 12" on and fire it's assault cannon 24" for a combined range of 36". So anything more than 12" on from your opponent's table edge will be in range.

    It's small things like this which can make all the different in a game of Warhammer 40K.

    No Man's Land
    Although, due to the new deployment types, No Man's Land is very rarely the 24" gap between battle lines, it's important to note that if you deploy a unit 12" on, at the very edge of your deployment zone and your opponent does the same (leaving a 24" gap in the middle) that there are 24" inches to cross.

    Now this is where the rules become slightly hazy.

    Imagine that on your table edge is a squad of Space Marines deployed 12" forward.
    Meanwhile your opponent has a brood of Tyranid Hormagaunts, also deployed 12" forward.

    He wins the first turn, moving his Hormagaunts 6" forward. He rolls a 6" for his Fleet of Foot and then uses his Leaping ability for a 12" charge move, gaining a total movement of 24" for the turn.

    Do the Hormagaunts charge the Space Marines?
    Good question.
    Beginners would say yes, while tournament players would say no.
    Why is this? Because the tournament player would have set up their Space Marine squad 1 molecule, 1 atom or 1 milimetre back from the full 12".
    Irritating for the Tyranid player, but it happens.

    But the important lesson to be learned from this is to protect yourself from people who over measure.

    Over Measuring
    Over Measuring: The habit by which a player becomes overexcited and increases the movement of their unit by small amounts during the Movement phase, Shooting phase (from Fleet of Foot) and Assault phase.

    One guy I know does it by accident, so I won't be too critical. But when his Daemon Prince ends up moving 22" in a turn you know something is downright wrong.

    The problem with Over Measuring is that it is quite hard to convince an opponent that they have just done it as their movement is spread over 3 phases. This is why it's best to note where they have moved from during the turn (usually by a peice of nearby terrain) or by taking not of the size of the gaming board.

    For example, his Space Marine Assault Squad equipped with Jump Packs assaulted a unit of Tau Stealth Suits on Turn 3. He had set them up 12" on to the board, while my Stalth Suits had been deployed opposite.

    Turn 1, he moved them 12".
    Turn 2, he moved them another 12" and attempted to charge 6".
    His total movement for Turns 1 and 2 combined was 30"
    However, he made it into base contact with my Stealth Suits which were just 5" from the board edge.

    This meant that he had Over Measured by 1 inch during his 2 Turns of movement.

    Over Measuring is a common occurence, especially amongst players who use fast moving units, usually assault units.

    While I'm convinced that it's not an intentional mistake that people make, especially not tournament players who are required to be incredibly precise in their measurements, it often occurs. So you must be prepared for it and of course, make sure that you don't do it yourself.

    So make sure you always play on a 6' X 4' table, note where the centre of the board is, how far on your deployment zones are, where you've placed your troops within them (and where your opponent has placed their troops). With a little practice you should always know if your weapons are in range.

    The Games Workshop plastic battlefield makes this easy as it's divided into 2' X 2' squares. But if you're like me and used three bits of 2' X 4' board it's just as easy. Playing on a smooth 6' X 4' board if when you need to learn what the distances look like.

    It's also important (especially when playing Tau) to easily identify the range of your guns as well as the charge range of fast enemy close combat units.


    June 12, 2009 · 6 comments

    Previews of upcoming articles in Warhammer Tau:

    Dark Angels VS Tau Apocalypse Battle Report

    A Tau training colony in an uninhabited system has been discovered by the Dark Angels space fortress monastry as it dropped out of the warp for routine maintenance checks.

    The Tau satellite defence network has caused irrepairable damage to 'The Rock' and now the Dark Angels seek vengeance against the aliens while seeking to acquire technologies which will help them to repair their engines and continue their pursuit of The Fallen.

    Despite attempted negotiations from the Tau water caste, the Dark Angels plan to attack at the enemy's command centre, seeking to end the conflict in one swift assault. There is no time to talk peace or to trade technologies and aid with the aliens due to the urgency of the Dark Angels primary mission.

    Having destroyed the Tau satellite network with return fire from the fortress monastry, the Dark Angels fleet began landing troops on the far side of the planet. A drop pod assault on the Tau command post is impossible due to the number of anti-aircraft emplacements while the building itself is protected from orbitabl bombardment by a powerful energy shield.

    As the Dark Angels mechanised company, led by Ravenwing outriders approach the Tau command post, Tau units are drawn from the training camps dotted across the globe to defend the colony's only form of communication with the rest of the Tau Empire.

    We've booked a table for the 27th of June at Warhammer World in Nottingham for this 4500 points per side game. Why so low for an Apocalypse game? So we can all turn up with our usual tournament armies of course. This should keep the armies relatively dymanic while making the game fast and tactical.

    James will also get to field his entire Dark Angels army. So that will be 1500 points of Ravenwing, 1500 points of Deathwing and 1,500pts of regular Dark Angels. Meanwhile I'll take my 1500 points of mechanised Tau, Simon will take his 1500 points of mixed Tau and Luke will take his 1500 points of gunline Tau.

    The Complete Tau Tactica

    This is quite an ambitious project, but basically I plan to provide tactics on how to use EVERY unit in the Tau army. Each unit will have its own tactis entry, detailing its use, common tactics employed, which units it works well with and how the different weapons options for it work...and which ones don't.

    Then, to top it all off will be the Complete Tau Tactica, giving an overview on the army as a whole, as well as a brief overview of each unit with links from each unit going to the tactics article written for that specific unit earlier.

    No battle report this week?
    Afraid not. I'm frantically painting up some Tau Battlesuits, planning the apocalypse game and sorting out my Space Wolves army. Don't forget that I have a full time job, girlfriend and drinking buddies too!

    Tau Army Expansion

    June 5, 2009 · 9 comments

    I'm very pleased with my Tau army so far. But that doesn't mean the Tau army is finished. Far from it. I'm planning to expand the army with some new Tau Battlesuits, a specially converted Devilfish for my Pathfinders and another Tau Battlesuit command team. Probably another Tau Battlesuit commander or team leader armed with and Air Bursting Fragmentation Projector as well.

    I'm yet to take the Stealth Suits out in large numbers again and as someone who believes that Kroot are best used for fodder, I don't plan to buy any more Kroot.

    While I have heard of Kroot hordes running rampant, I think the age of not knowing how to deal with units in cover is going to come to an abrupt end rather soon.

    I have 10 Kroot in larger games who occupy a wood and mostly go to ground for the purpose of irritation and absorbing firepower while providing a tactical counter charge element. But at the same I don't care if they all die screaming (a common occurence) as they only cost 70 points.

    So More of the Same?
    More Tau Battlesuits; that's without question.

    I've enjoyed real success with the Tau Battlesuit Shas'el commander and Battlesuit bodyguard armed with plasma rifle, missile pod, multitracker and targeting arrays. The whole unit hitting on 3+ is quite devastating, especially when combined with a markerlight from my Skyray. So naturally I'd like another as my second HQ choice.

    In the meantime, the Tau Battlesuit team with twin linked flamers and missile pods has performed exceptionally well up close, but suffered at long range. Either way, they're very scary and deter people from getting close. However, I would like to try another combo of twin linked missile pods and single flamers to see how that fairs.

    A Tau Battlesuit armed with the Air Bursting Fragmentation Projector seems essential for when I can't get my flame units close enough. Usually people field this guy with twin linked missile pods, but I have seen one guy give him twin linked flamers. Both options may be worth investing in, especially if I need massed flamers on both flanks.

    Finally, I'm thiking of converting another Tau Battlesuit commander equipied with the usual plasma rifle and missile pod, but with Iridium armour and 2 shield drones, giving both him and his drones a 2+ save, then joining him to an existing Battlesuit Command team...but that's a lot of points in just one unit!

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    About Warhammer Tau

    Warhammer Tau is a group of wargamers who feel that they have a little something different to offer other Tau Empire, Kroot, and allied players... even if it's just a starting point for discussion! Our goal is to produce at least one article per week to inform and encourage the Tau and Warhammer gamer community. For the Greater Good, of course!

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