Tau score 3rd place at the Bay Area Open!

July 16, 2015 ·

Beautiful display. Thanks to FLG for snapping some pics of his army!
There has been some heartening news from the tournament scene! In one of my previous posts, I talked about how Tau Deep Striking has a very important place in our lists as we move forward. The Bay Area Open grand tournament results show that Tau can still hang with the best of them, it just takes some dirty fighting! Kudos to Israel Sanchez for kicking butt at the BAO!

The Results

I will show the list taken by Israel Sanchez below, but first I want to show some of the results. Israel was one of 4 players at the Open to go undefeated over 5 rounds. Based on the results posted by Frontline Gaming, he got third overall, won Rennaissance Man (combined competition and paint score), and tied for the top painting score.
This army has won 'best appearance' in other events before, and Israel is often in the top 10-15 players of other tournaments. So we know it is a gorgeous army in the hands of a capable player who knows his Tau. So congrats to Israel on a great showing and, as always, on a gorgeous army.
I think it is also worth mentioning that Israel was the only one in the top 4 that didn't have access to "free points" in the form of summons or formation bonuses. I'm not saying that free points is why those guys are in the top 4. You'll notice that none of the top 4 were using the new Gladius Strike force with the free transports.

The List

So, here is what you really want: the army list.

Primary Detachment: Farsight Enclaves Combined Arms Detachment

  • Commander- XV-84 battlesuit, 2x Plasma Rifle, VRT, EWO
    • Warscaper Drone (Marker Drone)
  • 2x Crisis Team- 3x Shas'ui w/ 2x Plasma Rifle, EWO
  • 1x Crisis Team- 3x Shas'ui w/ 2x Fusion Blaster, EWO
  • Riptide- Ion, Plasma, EWO, ECPA
  • 3x Tetra Team- 2 Tetras per team
  • Aegis Defense Line - Comms Relay

Secondary Detachment: Farsight Enclaves Firebase Support Cadre

  • Riptide- Ion, Fusion, EWO, Positional Relay
  • Broadsides- 3x Shas'ui w/ HYMP, Plasma, EWO
  • Braodsides- 3x Shas'ui w/ HYMP, SMS, EWO

How the List Works

Disclaimer: I wasn't there, I don't know who he faced, and I haven't had a chance to talk to Israel about how is list works, so this will all be conjecture based on the composition of his army.

The first, and most obvious, characteristic of Israel's list, is that he uses FSE, not Tau Empire. This has been standard for some time. ObSec Crisis Teams are pretty much the only way to go in almost any objective scoring game. Fire Warriors just don't cut it anymore, so XV8 Troops are where it is still at.
Second, the Firebase Support Cadre. Broadsides are good, Riptides are good, so why not just take them together and grant them all Tank Hunters and Preferred Enemy: Space Marines? Too good to pass up, especially the way things are nowadays. You'll see what I mean later.
Third, EWO on everything. This is a no brainer considering the recent success of Drop Pod Skitarii and the new Space Marine formations.

Anti-Drop Pods

Now, I don't know all the lists Israel faced, but it was almost guaranteed that he face a Gladius Strike Force with two demi-companies. What space marine player could say no to so many free points? In fact, his final match was against a dual demi-companies of Iron Hands. Drop Pods are one of the best transport in the game, and everyone gets to take one for free in these marine lists. Even other armies (Skitarii) ally with things like the Flesh Tearers detachment in order to put other Imperial units into these premier transports.
So how did this list do so well against a bunch of free points and utter disregard for most 1st-turn-limitations? For starters, it is almost custom-made to counter a Space Marine drop pod assault, of which there were many at the BAO. Nearly every unit has Interceptor, and the majority of those units have AP2 weapons. The Drop Pods also need to land within 12" to get Rapid Fire range, which puts them nicely in Rapid Fire range of our own weapons. The Iontides can wipe out entire units with their large S8 AP2 blasts! The AP2 also ensures that the attacks will still be potent against terminators, paladins, or centurions that are deepstriking as well.

Deployment Shenanigans

But that isn't everything cool about this list. Sure you can counter when the enemy is Deep Striking right next to you, but what about when the enemy is castled up and you need to come to him? The secret ingredient to the list is the deployment/reserve manipulation: Outflanking Tetras w/ homing beacons, Warscaper Drone, Positional Relay, Comms Relay, and Deep Striking Riptides/Crisis teams. The Tetras can Outflank (on the side of their choosing, thanks to the Positional Relay) 12" in and then drop Crisis teams another 6" in with no scatter.
The 3 Tetra teams mesh well with the 3 crisis teams, as they can likely boost these teams to BS5 or maybe BS4 while stripping cover. So on turn 2, you will likely bring on two teams of Tetras and two Crisis teams (probably more with the Comms relay). The Crisis Teams can drop 18" in from the edge you want, threatening targets 30" in with 12 highly accurate plasma shots from each team. It is a very potent flanking maneuvre, and it actually doesn't cost that much in points (each tetra team is only 70 points, and each crisis team is 174)
The Warscaper Drone allows the commander to Outflank with the rest of the group, getting him right in there to either contribute BS5 plasma shooting or a BS5 markerlight (the drone will hit with its markerlight 33% of the time too)
I think that this is what really sets the list apart. The weapon choices don't show much of a counter for horde armies, but by using reserve manipulation you can fight the horde on your terms, split it up, outflank it, etc. This is all based around a very solid anchor (the Broadsides and Riptides behind an Aegis) that your opponent cannot ignore. In a horde-heavy environment I can see this list falling behind a bit, but nowadays Power Armour is the thing to wear and it was an excellent list for dealing with them.

Bonus Features

So the list is solid, but there are a few hidden gems that can make or break a game:
  • Few Kill Points. The entire list only has 11 kill points. Compared to the space marine formations with free transports, that isn't very many. and they are all pretty tough units too.
  • Markerlight with Intercept. The XV84 allows a single BS5 markerlight to be used during Intercept. This is huge when your intercepting XV8's are only BS3. It is unexpected and small, but there are usually only one or two primary targets when Drop Pods start falling. Once you ID the biggest threats, a single markerlight will go a long way towards killing it. 
  • Warscaper Drone. Not only does this grant Outflank and Move Through Cover to the Warlord and his unit, but it also makes difficult terrain into Dangerous terrain for enemy units within 12" (when outside their deployment zone). That means that anything trying to charge through the Aegis, or trying to disembark in some trees for the cover save, have to start rolling dangerous terrain tests. It may not kill many, or any, but they do add up over time. Just one more thing to make your opponents' turns harder.
Thanks for reading.
Let me know what you think of the latest in competitive Tau list-building!

-Da Skyman


Anonymous said...
July 17, 2015 at 11:53 AM  

Thanks for the post! It's great to see what's viable in bigger scale tourney's these days. I have a feeling things are going to change a lot with the 7th Ed. codex when it comes.

Hokiecow said...
September 2, 2015 at 6:26 AM  

But you can't outflank and use it's positional relay to DS units in. That are all placed at the same time at the start of a turn.

You can outflank one turn and DS the next turn OR have the Tetras on the board at the start so the DS units can use the positional relay on turn 2.

Skyler Hoeft said...
September 8, 2015 at 12:04 PM  

Neither Homing Beacons nor Positional Relays have to be on the board at the start of a turn to be used, unlike Teleport Homers.
AFAIK, you are allowed to bring on your reserves in any order you choose. So you just move your Tetras on from reserve first, then place your DS within 6"

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