They'll Keep Fighting -And They'll Win!

September 17, 2009 ·

Okay, that's the ending slogan for the movie Starship Troopers, but the Tau are back, with another revised battle plan. They'll keep fighting -and they'll win!

James came over last night to play video games, but ended up talking about the Tau Codex and how to make a better army list -for 3 hours!!

He was just as horrified as Marc at how overpriced everything in the Tau codex is. But, James was far more positive, reminding me how I give his Ravenwing a run for his money and always manage to beat an opponent (eventually) through incredibly sneaky tactics. He's not wrong, however the most influential thing he had to say was "Just accept that you're going to die."

An interesting philosophy you might think. But what James means is: Don't worry about keeping everything alive, just play them to their utmost tactical potential.

So deploy the Broadsides in the corner and keep firing until an outflanking unit tears them apart if you have to avoid faster units coming down the middle. And most importantly -put everything that's not effective in the early turns of the game in Reserve. They can get killed later and hopefully react to the enemies actions.

As for revising my army list (again), my problems before came from not being happy fielding Kroot, Pathfinders or Piranhas. I don't care what other people say, they're too slow, too fragile and in the case of the Piranhas -far too expensive.

So I've gone back to my previous Tau army list and addressed which units are under performing and HOW they are failing to meet their survivability and kill quotas.

1500 points Tau army list

Tau Shas’el with 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
2 with Twin Linked Flamer, Missile Pod
1 Leader with Twin Linked Flamer, Missile pod, Hardwired Drone Controller with 2 shield drones

(X3) 6 man Fire warrior Team
Devilfish with Smart Missile System, Targeting Array, Multitracker, Disruption Pod

Hammerhead with Railgun, 2 Burst Cannons, Multitracker and Disruption Pod

Skyray with 2 Burst Cannons, Target Lock (comes as standard), Targeting Array, Multitracker and Disruption Pod

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

The Good
The best stuff in this army is the general 12" movement of all units (apart from the Broadsides), my reliable Tau Battlesuit Command team all armed with plasma rifle, missile pod and hitting on 3+. Expensive, but awesome.

Having a mechanised army really helps when it comes to the horrendous numbers of heavy bolters and other anti infantry weapons. Disruption pods are equally awesome.

The Bad
Units that let me down are the Broadsides unless they get help from the Skyray
The Skyray, because it seems to spend all its time (and markerlights) helping the Broadsides
The Tau Battlesuit team with twin linked flamers and missile pods

The Remedy
The Broadsides are easily fixed by losing Assisted Stabilisation Systems (slow & purposeful) and giving them Targeting Arrays (+1 BS). Then I can just park them on a hill and leave them to shoot. This way they don't need the expensive Skyray to help them every turn.

The Skyray is a tricky one. Everyone seems to rave about markerlights, but are they really that good? Well, yes they are when something absolutely has to die and a hard hitting unit can make the most of those markerlights to slot their target good and propper.

I think my Skyray tactics have been pretty poor when I could have been firing more seeker missiles. While I could pay 10 points more for another Hammerhead with a railgun (which is awfully tempting), 1 in 2 shots seems to get deflected by 4+ cover saves and with my 1 shot railgun, it's usually that 1 shot which gets ignored.

BUT, if I think of the Skyray Missile Turret at firing 2 Krak Missiles per turn (at range 36"), then it's suddenly a much more offensive tank. Might be worth giving it a smart missile system so that it can move 12" and fire ALL its weapons. Now there's an idea!

Finally, I come to the Tau Battlesuit team with twin linked flamers and missile pods. This unit either does nothing all game and then has a moment of glory with the flamers. Or they fire missile pods desperately and do nothing all game.

Twin linked missile pods and single flamers are slightly more expensive, but definitely a more reliable choice. I'd then be able to hit with a much higher percentage of shots and more likely destroy or at least immobilise more vehicles. The flamers are still there as a nice counter attack for troops huddled around one of my tanks.

Other failings of the army include not being able to deal with hordes of troops while the tanks get smacked out of the sky when they get charged, even when the attackers need 6+ to hit. But I also have a remedy for this!

1500 points Tau army list

Tau Shas’el with 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
2 Battlesuits with twin linked missile pods and single flamers

(X3) 6 man Fire warrior Team
Devilfish with Smart Missile System, Targeting Array, Multitracker, Disruption Pod, Flechette Discharger

Hammerhead with Railgun, Smart Missile System, Targeting Array (comes as standard), Multitracker, Disruption Pod, Flechette Discharger

Skyray with Smart Missile System, Target Lock (comes as standard), Targeting Array, Multitracker, Disruption Pod, Flechette Discharger

2 man Broadside Team with Targeting Arrays
Leader, Hardwired Drone Controller with 2 shield drones

Changes Made
You will have probably noticed that I've given all my tanks flechette dischargers. These babies wound anything on 4+, regardless of toughness. You still get a save of course, but that's still very damaging to mobs of Orks, Nids and anything else charging my tanks. Usually it's softer units that are likely to charge them.

One of the biggest problems in my last game was a tank getting charged, because once it's been charged, it can be charged again and again due to its movement of 12". Foot slogging Orks need only move 6", then charge 6". Of course with flechette dischargers, a 16 strong mob would get wittled down to around 9 models after charging. No Ork player would want to do that 2 turns in succession. I doubt few Space Marine players would happily charge 10 marines at one of these tanks now! Either way, it greatly helps to wittle down enemy numbers.

Hopefully I can play some more games on Saturday.
Until then!


Damon said...
September 17, 2009 at 1:33 PM  

Adam said,
"As for revising my army list (again), my problems before came from not being happy fielding Kroot, Pathfinders or Piranhas. I don't care what other people say, they're too slow, too fragile and in the case of the Piranhas -far too expensive."

You can suppress my advice posts (why?), but for someone who emphasizes tactical play to win games I find it odd that you would do so. What is the purpose to censoring alternative tactical approaches?

And it's even odder that you can automatically dismiss those tactics without ever having tried them once. Not even once.

I humbly suggest that you give alternatives an actual fair shake before being so dismissive of them. I promise you, they can work.

Your current army suffers all the weaknesses of your previous one. No ability to keep enemies at a distance. Too many points spent on unnecessary upgrades. Sadly, as cool as they are, flechette dischargers are not a panacea.

Adam said...
September 17, 2009 at 2:56 PM  

Damon, the reason your first comment was rejected was because it was impolite. Or you'd just discovered the caps lock and wanted to take it for a thorough test drive.

I'm happy to listen to your opinion and take your ideas on board, just like everyone else. However, I can also choose not to and continue with my own ideas.

Pathfinders feel wrong to me due to their static nature.

Kroot feel wrong to me because they're comparatively expensive to other 'fodder' troops. Plus, they tend to die horrifically when sneezed at up close or from afar.

Piranhas. Pricey, probably good in larger games, but not at 1500 points.

Those are my opinions. I respect that yours may differ, but only so long as you respect mine.

If you're rude to me again via the comment system, I will ban you from commenting on my blog.

I don't want to ban you, but then I don't have to take that kind of treatment.

brent said...
September 17, 2009 at 5:05 PM  

Anywho, do you think you could include the individual point value of each unit in your army. I think it would help a little for readers as not everyone is actually a Tau player but actually really like your blog and writing style.

Adam said...
September 17, 2009 at 10:05 PM  

I'm afraid I can't do that Brett. It's against GW's information protection to do so.

brent said...
September 17, 2009 at 11:39 PM  

Who's Brett? Anyway, sorry as I didn't know. I'll just have to steEl the dex from the internets then. Major League Baseball in America is terrible like that too- only worse.

Hedzer said...
September 18, 2009 at 1:30 AM  

I agree with you on the PF and Kroot, they don't fit in a mech army. Opponents are happy with them, because it gives their str4 weapons something to shoot at.

As for Piranha's: they're fun but not really tournament material. I have two in my list though and they've served me well sofar (unit of 2 with one FD).

I agree on your change to the flamer suits. I have exactly the same unit :)

As for the Fireknife command squad, you pay 40 pts to get 2 suits from BS 3 to 4. That's a lot. I have one unit of 2 non-vre suits. The commander is alone and has the option to join.

My problem with the Sky Ray (I use one) is that the Markerlight is often used for the Broadsides as well. I remedied it by adding an SMT team, which is a lot of fun to play as well :) I still suck at firing seekers though, best nr used is 3...

suneokun said...
September 18, 2009 at 2:24 AM  

Three things:

One: Fletchette Casulaties...

First of all, how do you get 9 kills from 16 orks from fletchette dischargers on average. 50% will wound (8) and then he may get 1-2 6's, giving a total of 5-6. 9 survivors from fletchetting - yes!

On fletchette. They are awesome against mobs, I've used them on Harlequins before to particularly effective results.

Two: Movement

Last time I checked, a Tau Devilfish is a skimmer and can therefore move 18" at full speed ... I think that's right?!? Re-charge problem over.

Three: Stealth teams.

Where are your stealth teams? I've found them to be a versatile crew in fifth, offering important infiltrate, deepstrike or flanking versatility that is really great for attacking the underbelly of the beast.

If you don't like Kroot, choose XV25's...

Managarm said...
September 18, 2009 at 2:42 AM  

"Just accept that you're going to die."
I laughed when I read this. This was exactly the same thing I had to learn for playing Terminator heavy SM lists.

I'd really like to hear how this new! list fares in your next games!
Your combination of heavy support is on my mind too, but I still have some issues with the skyray. But maybe that's something like you have with kroot...
Especially I am curious how the flechettes turn out. I am always undecided whether to take flechettes or sensor spines.

Michael said...
September 18, 2009 at 6:15 AM  

Three: Stealth teams.

Where are your stealth teams?"

If you have to ask that, his stealth teams have done their job.

Kveldulf said...
September 18, 2009 at 6:46 AM  

I have been using FDs off and on for the last month or so and have found them useful regardless of who I was facing. Even Space Marines have to think twice about charging in when faced with an FD, as a squad of ten will likely lose one member.

Personally I use a Sky Ray with two Rail gun armed Hammerheads as my heavies, this means that most opponents send their las cannons against the Hammerheads leaving the Sky Ray free to fly around and get side and rear arc hits with its SMS and seekers.

Oh, it's you, Bob... said...
September 18, 2009 at 7:33 AM  

I have only been playing a handful of months and your army list was my default as I learned. It helped to have a list and someone giving tactical advice while I learned everything else. As I get more comfortable, I've started to change things here and there. The thing that has helped me most is preparing for a local tournament @ the 1000 point level. At 1k pts., I have gotten a much better feel for the units. Like you, I usually leave the kroot in the case. Same with the pathfinders. Also, at the risk of being declared a heretic, I take Ion cannons on the Hammerhead(s). The Broadsides handle the railgunning and the Piranha have Fusion for melta goodness. Long-winded, sorry. Just wanted to suggest maybe you could back up on the points and add units one at a time until you're completely comfortable with their ability (or lack).

Old Shatter Hands said...
September 18, 2009 at 8:13 AM  

I really liked reading this post. And I can see why you don't like kroot or piranhas, they both require practice and micro-managing. From what I've learned from others, the preferred kroot unit is 10 kroot with 5+ hounds. But piranhas are sweet man! I have won whole games with them! You have to field them in squadrons though or they are mincemeat. They can be an effective distraaction unit as well. Arm them with Flachette and Melta guns and shove them in your opponents face, while the rest of the force guns him down from afar. But I digress, if they aren't your cup of tea, don't field them.

Question: Is it more efficient to field 2 Shas'els with PR, MP, TA and HW-MT rather than your shas'el with bodyguard? Something you might consider. They are certainly easier to hide, when going solo.

Also, I suggest the Deathrain suit over the TW-flamer suit.

List tinkering aside, nothing beats good old-fashioned practice.

Codex creep is a bummer. Your armies look so small compared to what Guard, CSM, and SM can field.

Love the discussion here!

Brian said...
September 18, 2009 at 8:27 AM  

"my problems before came from not being happy fielding Kroot, Pathfinders or Piranhas. I don't care what other people say, they're too slow, too fragile and in the case of the Piranhas -far too expensive."

I understand your frustrations with all three of those units. Kroot are fragile unit with very little killing potential. The purpose of them is to provide a speed bump that the enemy practically has to engage before they engage your squishier stuff.

Pathfinders are... Well, I haven't had good luck with them either. They seem to do better in higher point games. : p

I also understand your frustration with piranhas. I run ONE fusion blaster piranha and it works great for doing two things. Suicide runs against big expensive tanks, and contesting objectives from far away. But it only works if the rest of your army is capable of beating the enemy senseless.

It will be interesting to see how your new list does. I'm surprised that you have had such success with a skyray. The AP3 and only strength 8 were the thorn in my side in the games that I used it so I turned it into a hammerhead.

I'm surprised that your hammerheads get their shots negated by cover. With the 12" move it seems like you ought to be able to get off clean shots.

Good luck with your new list.

NockerGeek said...
September 18, 2009 at 11:15 AM  

I've been reaching the same conclusion as you have on Pathfinders - overcosted and too static - and it's starting to bleed over into my feelings on markerlights altogether. I haven't tried using the Sky Ray as a markerlight platform, though, so that might be the next tweak to my army list, although I feel it's a bit limited utility-wise compared to the Railhead.

I look forward to seeing how your revised army list performs, as I see my own army going in the same direction.

Adam said...
September 18, 2009 at 11:11 PM  

Totally agree. I was explaining this to James last night, because his answer was "Give everything markerlights."
I was like "y'know those are 30pts each?"
He was like "Damn!!"

Anyway, yes, they're very expensive. The Skyray 'could' be better as a Hammerhead, however you need those mobile markerlights for taking out Lictors and making sure the Tau Battlesuit Command team wipes out a squad in a single turn of fire (all hitting on 2+)

Stealth Suits are a big redundant right now. Batelstuits are more cost effective, tougher and have missile pods.

Anonymous said...
September 19, 2009 at 4:26 AM  

hi there,

Nice reading here. Nice army too.

I run a mech list too.
some thoughts I'd like to share,

* for the TL flamers: I use them too. I like them. the difference for me is I don't have a teamleader and no shield drones. They die anyway, so I use those points for other stuff. like you said yourself: just accept that you'll die, and field them to do so.

the pathfinders are too static indeed, but I always field them. I converted them from regular fire warriors and I like them very much. but they also have the nice devilfish upgrade called (marker light beacon. I use that thingy to DS the TL flamers roght in the heart of the enemy lines. An unwary opponent will get his ass burnt in no time. especially if he fields big units of troops close together. I flamed 3 units of guard troops and a sniper team once, and stole the objective; the rest of them fled off the board.

the piranha is one unit I want to try, but solely as contester, and armed with a fusion blaster. maybe hit a tank in the side when the opportunity presents itself.

and lastly Kroot: use them as outflankers to harass enemies or go for the enemy home objective. or screen your broadsides (broadsides in a mech list???)

greetings Bjorn (belgium)

Brian said...
September 19, 2009 at 6:15 PM  

Hey Adam,

Are you familiar with the stealth marker teams? usually three stealth suits with drone controllers, one of them upgraded to a team leader with a markerlight.

It's an expensive squad to be sure, but it gives you seven marker lights that are mobile and *almost* invulnerable to return fire so long as they keep back around the 36" range.

You could try it out in a much cheaper version if you want, three suits, one as TL, HWDC, ML, and two marker drones. That gives you three marker lights to play with, although marker lights, even though they are expensive, need numbers. Figure a team of six pathfinders will average three hits.

But there is nothing quite as fun as stripping the cover save off of those bikers that just turbo boosted and dropping a template on them.

Joe said...
October 2, 2009 at 10:39 PM  

One thing that i've considered just based on the points cost is to play a small 4 man pathfinder team. not too expensive. with the scout move you can probably disembark them into cover and by the first turn get it back to the table edge to pick up a fire warrior team in reserve. i'm still a bit hazy abou the rules designated transports but i understand that the devilfish doesn't always have to transport the pathfinders. as said earlier the marker beacon would be extremely helpful when deploying your battlesuit teams. and 48 points for 4 markerlight shots and the chance to re roll deep strikes seems like a good deal

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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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