Fighting 7th Edition Eldar with 6th Edition Tau

May 1, 2015 ·

The title says it all. This post is some of my musings on dealing with the newest codex arrival: Eldar. I was going to post on how to deal with Necrons a month or so ago, but the answer for them is the same as always, so I refrained. (In case you were wondering, it is volume of fire and mobility)

What's New Eldar?

Eldar are the next step in GW's scheme to turn regular 40k into Apocalypse 40k. If you haven't heard, they are quite good. Their strength is not necessarily in unfair rules, but in their cost. Powerful models are cheap and you can take tons of them. In fact, just about everything in the book got a boost, except for the wave serpent, which had its serpent shield dialed back a bit. It's still a very cheap transport for what it brings, but it isn't going to rule the tables like it has for the past 2 years. So here are a few of the units that jump out as powerful:
  • Wraithknight. It's tougher and carries two D guns. Oh yeah, and it's Gargantuan. It's under 300 points too
  • Jetbikes. Same price but can put a Scatter Laser on every bike for 10 points. 
  • Wraithguard. D strength weapons with no cost increase
  • Warp Spiders. Jetpacks that can now jump them away during YOUR shooting phase, and you don't get to pick a new target if they end up out of range. Their guns also wound against Initiative, so just about our entire codex is wounded on 2's
  • Swooping Hawks. Can move faster, and when they move over a flyer's base they hit it with a bunch of haywire attacks. 
  • Tanks. All three of the battle tanks can be taken in squads, allowing an Eldar player to field way more in a single detachment. They get shooting bonuses when taken together as well. 
  • Farseers. They were always top dog in the Psychic department, but now they can re-roll psychic dice at will. That means they will almost never fail, almost never Peril, and will Deny the Witch more often.
  • Wraithfighter. It's template weapons are now D strength, it can be a level 2 psycher, and has access to regular powers instead of just one.
  • Dark Reapers. Get lots of shooting bonuses against flying things, and their guns still work good on all other targets too. 
The first thing you expect is a wraithknight or three. Unlike everything else in the game, Eldar can take basically as many Lord of War as they want if they fulfill the core requirement, which is a bunch of Jetbikes. Not really a tax since Jetbikes are now disgusting. Expect to see as many Jetbikes as your local Eldar player can afford to field. 

What Can Tau do against such reckless distribution of D weapons?

It really isn't that bad. All of the D template weapons (D-Scythes) are at a -1 on the D chart. So they can never roll a 6, and they will only wound 2/3 of the time. Better rethink trying to tie up Wraithguard in close combat though. Wraithguard still require a delivery system (wave serpent, webway portal, Dark Eldar raider) or they'll get shot to bits. The Wraithknight is not all that different to Tau shooting either. Our biggest problems are how to survive D weapons long enough to apply our own firepower to the not-all-that-squishy-but still-squishier-than-some Eldar.
We are presented with this dilemma: 
  1. D weapons can bypass invulnerable saves. Cover saves are the best defense.
  2. D-Scythes ignore cover. Invulnerable saves are the best defense.
We can't get access to Invisibility, which is what most codices are falling back on. We can't spam hordes to overwhelm the D weapons with bodies. And if these D weapons get the first shot, they will kill what they shoot at. So what do we do? Tau have been at a disadvantage for some time now, so we do what we always have to do to win: we outplay them. 

With Power comes Predictability

You know exactly what he is going to do with those D weapons. Eldar weapons are polarized enough that you'll know what he is going to shoot when you present him with a certain set of options. This gives you a chance to force him into tough decisions, and maybe make the wrong one. 
  • D-Weapons: Riptides, Broadsides, O'mortal, 
  • D-Scythes: Vehicles, Stealth Suits, 
  • Scatter Lasers: crisis suits, light vehicles
  • Striking Scorptions: will move to attack infantry early
  • Swooping Hawks: will deep strike or move for Firewarriors in cover
We all know how much Eldar players like their cheese...
We can kill the D-weapon carriers with anything in our codex. It is the Jetbikes that are a problem with their 3+ armour, cover save shenanigans, and extreme mobility. Scatter lasers are one of the few multi-purpose weapons the Eldar carry, and Jetbikes are where you'll see a LOT of them. Jetbikes will also be the primary scoring units. To kill them we need to strip their cover saves away and punch them out of the sky. Thankfully, Tau have multiple ways of stripping cover.

Bait and Switch

You know what the Eldar wants, so pretend like you are giving it to him. He wants you to stay put with expensive units and allow him to come to you on his terms. Make a show of castling up with a unit of Broadsides, some Firewarriors, a Cadre Fireblade, and maybe a Riptide. You'll need cover against the first volleys of D weapons from the Wraithknights and Wrath batteries. However, after that first turn or two, cover won't do you any good, so it is best to stay mobile and keep your opponent guessing. When he storms your position, all he should get out of it are the Broadsides, the Comms Relay, and maybe the Firewarriors.
Deep Striking battlesuits are perfect for your counterattack. The Eldar has to commit his Wraithguard/Striking Scorpions/Swooping Hawks in the first turns which allows you to counter-attack where these units aren't and take out the mobile Scat Attack Bikes. Once the heavy hitters are committed, it takes at least a couple turns for them to redeploy elsewhere, and the game could be over by the time they react. If you are running Farsight Enclaves, you can drop tons of battlesuits everywhere, and they are all Obsec (unlike the Eldar units).
Other good counterattack units are Piranhas and Kroot, since they have ways of covering ground quickly and avoiding death at range. They can arrive from Reserve (which seems to be the only safe place in the game now) and still get their respective jobs done. Just watch out for those cover-ignoring Serpent Shields, which will shred Piranhas.


We have access to good Obsec units, but Eldar don't get any if they use their Warhost detachment. Jetbikes can be Obsec in a regular detachment, which only adds to the emphasis that you need to kill them to win. Winning comes down to who gets the objectives. If you end the game with one Fire Warrior standing on an objective, didn't kill a single Eldar, but scored 4 objective points to his 3, you win. He may be able to say "I killed all your units and didn't lose any!" but he cannot say "I beat you. I won. You lost." at least not in this universe.
Drop Farsight troop crisis suits everywhere and nab objectives throughout the game. Take cheap Kroot units and outflank them onto objectives. Clog the board with Devilfishes or Piranhas. If you can take enough steam out of the Eldar player's attacks, he won't be able to kill all of your Obsec units and that might just be his downfall.

Rethink Riptides

3 Riptides probably isn't the best option against Eldar. Riptides are made to soak up fire, not to dish it out. The D-weapon basically takes away a Riptide's ability to tank wounds, making it an expensive liability. One or even two seem useful, since they will draw attention, and that is valuable, but you better be relying on something else to put the hurt on your opponent. Eldar are now the Elite killers, and any army that doesn't bolster their power units with decent run-of-the-mill units is in trouble.
This may be something players have begun doing already, since there are now multiple combinations out there that can easily kill a Riptide per turn.


Eldar have a big cost advantage right now. Their units are dirt cheap for what they are capable of accomplishing. Streamline your own army to reduce waste. Things like solo Hammerheads, Longstrike, superbuff Riptides with shield drones, shas'ui/shas'vre upgrades, extra equipment, In short, anything that can't perform multiple tasks could be dead weight. So what units are points efficient?
  • Piranhas. Super cheap when you consider they carry 2 drones
  • Firewarriors. The most points efficient method of getting S5 AP5 shots on the table
  • Crisis Suits. Mobile, tough, good armour, and good weapon options. Obsec in a FSE list
  • Broadsides. Cheapest way to get accurate, massed missile pods onto the table. The SMS is choice for engaging Eldar as well
  • Devilfish. Obsec if taken for Firewarriors. Can jink around with 3+ cover saves with decent armour against non D-weapons. You need to keep it away from Wraithguard carrying D-Scythes though.

That's all for now.

Comment below if you have some thoughts on what Tau can do to keep an edge over those pointy-eared pansies.
I have not had the pleasure of facing the new Eldar yet, but I am excited for the challenge. I will point out that someone compiled the results from 18 games after the new codex him.The New Eldar won 15 times. Tau was one of three armies to beat them (Grey Knights and Necrons were the other two). They are strong, but Tau have what it takes to win!


TheGraveMind said...
May 2, 2015 at 12:39 PM  

D weapons ignore cover and invulnerable on a six. But very solid strategies over all.

Herzen said...
May 4, 2015 at 2:59 AM  

What about Sniper Drones? For the first look, it's good tool to destroy Evas and 'Guards due to LSPR-range and Sniper USR. Its dirty cheap (only 148 pts for full pack of 9 Drones with one Marksman) and Drones almost always have 5 BS (due to Marksman or Support'O if the first one would died). Steals makes possible Jump-Shoot-Jump tactics behind some terrain and saves form D-weapon of Eva. And one more, LSPR - is rapid fire on 24' range - 18 sniper shots with 5 BS and on 4+ To Wound divide 'Knight by zero.

Theoretically SDT can help us to cope with Eldars and theirs D-weapons.

May 7, 2015 at 3:25 AM  

I've got a match coming up I'm super nervous about. dude's also packing new harlequins. I've got a piranha enroute. hopefully I can block him up for a few turns while my big guns tear him to shreds.

Thanks for the post!

Skyler Hoeft said...
May 9, 2015 at 3:35 PM  

@TheGraveMind: yeah, there really isn't anything you can do if they roll a 6. That is why you need to move away from big-ticket items like Riptides and Longstrike Hammerheads. It just makes it too easy for D-spam to win via lucky 6's

@Herzen: I can see SDT being useful against the artillery batteries and Wraithknights, due to the high toughness, but I can't see Wraithguard ever being deployed without some sort of transport. They aren't that tough, so they will pretty much Always be in a transport, and safe from sniper fire.

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