Monday, June 22, 2009

Tau, the Way of Saim Hann and our Forces

As a student of the Way of Saim Hann, Fritz's game winning tactics, I been confronted with a question as it relates the Tau army structure. Before we can discuss further, you have to watch this video from the genius of 40k himself.

Fritz breaks down his armies in three elements; attack, support and defense. Attack comprises an uber-unit. A unit so tough and so deadly that it can head into the heart of enemy and cause havoc amongst their ranks, allowing the rest of the army to position itself for the win. In each of his armies, it is one unit usually equipped to slug it out in close combat. The support elements have lots of fire power, are quick enough to contest objectives at the end of the game. The defense element parks on objectives on his side of the board and lays down fire.

This is a winning tactic. One I'd like to mimic. However, the Tau lack a good strong attack element. Looking at my army, I've assigned two Hammerheads and my Shas'O and Bodyguard to this role. However, they can't get too close to the enemy or it's over for them. You've got to dance your way around, laying down fire and keeping a distance. I think they might fit better as support elements. So that leads me to question whether overall Fritz tactic is something that could work for the Tau. What could fill this attack role?

I've been considering putting a unit of piranha's in this role. Five Piranhas armed with Fusion Blasters, Flachette Dischargers and Targeting Arrays. This unit could head right into the enemy, take out a tank or two, drones could detach to attack infantry. This unit turbo-boosts right in your opponents faces and threatens key targets. As your opponent works hard to take them down, your support elements, like Hammerheads and Crisis Suits, pummel your enemy from afar. They aren't rock hard but with AV 11 and 4+ cover save from moving fast, they will definitely require a serious amount of effort to take down.

I'm interested in hearing from other Tau players what unit or combination of units couple fill this type of attack role in a Tau army. What are your thoughts? Is this something Tau can do or should we be looking to have different strategy overall?


UltraLemming said...

Ah, finally. Well I was typing up this huge comment, and well... I'll just leave it at "Technical Difficulties."

Basically, I was planning on taking Farsight accompanied by 4 Bodyguards(FireKnife) with all shield generators and 4 shield drones for survivability.

I feel this unit fits the attack role well... 5 Rapid firing plasma rifles followed by 5 str5 power weapon attacks(as well as all the other attacks) should be able to wipe most things off the table. The 2d6 penetration roll should serve its own against vehicles, the only problem they might face would be dreadnoughts. Some of the missile pods could easily be swapped for any other weapons(for instance, fusion blasters for close range killy) Since it is being used in a pure 'attack' role.

Now that you have so graciously pointed me to this video(sometimes Fritz has a bit TOO much content...) It has further encouraged the Farsight build I was working towards.

Well, after frantically painting crisis suits for the past couple of days, I shall see how this works out for me on Wednesday. I feel this will also help me coordinate the rest of my army list by consciously designating "support", "attack", and "defense" roles.

Old Shatter Hands said...

This could work. Gun drones might serve well instead of shield drones but I guess that is a matter of preference.

The only problem I have with farsight, is that I like taking two hammerheads...

Farsight only has an assault range of 6, and if charged even he can really chewed up by marines who will be hitting on 3s, because majority WS is 3.

Still, I think you are on to something...would love to hear how it works out for you.

Adam Hunter said...

I'm not convinced by Fritz and it's a shame I'll never be able to play him...and by play him, I mean give him a good kicking!

I'm not being arrogant in saying I could beat him, but I think it would be a close and fun game.

Personally I wish he'd write up his tournament battle reports in the same way I do so we'd have a solid insight into what he's doing. But as other tournament players read his blog, he tries his best to keep things to himself. Mind you, tournament players read my blog too!

Moving on:
You have to remember that the Eldar army is currently much better than the Tau. While Tau have more basic weapons fire, the Eldar have more speed and close combat, although their jetbikes only have toughness 3.

I've found that Tau work in a different way to what Fritz is doing - and that's because they're a totally different army.

They're very defensive and mobile, but at the same time they are a Counter Army. So often you can bait the enemy with a wall of tanks and when he closes the Tau Battlesuits jump over the top with rapid firing plasma guns or twin linked flamers.

Tau are MASSIVELY tactical -more so than Eldar.

When playing Tau you have to balance kills with denying your enemy shots, denying yourself shots in order to survive and sometimes sacrificing units to escape, push an advance or draw an enemy away.

Piranhas are good for contesting for 2 Turns. But don't forget that they give your opponent 2 kill points if the drones die too. However, I'm yet to be happy using them as a sacrificial unit.

Can I suggest that you take what Fritz writes with a pinch of salt (because we can't move 24" or take a seer council!), mechanise your whole force, play some games and try things out.

Oh, and read my Tau blog for how to play Tau properly!

Fritz hasn't done a battle report against a savvy Tau player yet...

CJ said...

Well ol'shatter,

I think the Farsight build would have some potential indeed. I disagree with adam that Tau lack potential to build this kind of a list. I think something along the line of Suit team and shielding Devlifish could really work. Don't forget that for 5 pts. you get a free 4+ coversave. that's HUGE, I play saim Hann aswell and I have to say it's a huge pain in the ass to play against tau. they Outgun and outrange me and the Battle suits (fire Knife) can put out a hell f a lot of shots for only 3 guys. Off course it's going to hurt when you loose one but a good player will eb able to shield them either with terrain or units or with Shield drones.

So my suggestion is this. use the broadsides and hammerheads as your defence structures (backed up by some Fire warriors for claiming) use some devilfishes and maybe some of the marker light guys as support. these fit this roles perfectly since they boost the army with improved shooting and defence.

Then use 1 or 2 Battle suit teams as the attackers. If possible Farsight with a 4 man Retinue. this will require a huge portion of fire power to take out and will by the rest of your army to do what it does best Slowly swing around will blasting the other army.

I'm NOT a tau player but I play agianst them a lot with the Fritz tactics and I have yet to win a game.

Cheers CJ

Old Shatter Hands said...

Great responses. The Tau are one of the more unique armies, in that we might not be able adopt such in-your-face-uber-unit tactics and have to improvise...focus more on lures and traps, on bringing the enemy out into the open. Keep moving, keep fluid. This is how I play...but against the top-tier lists I tend to get mauled. Orks especially, but I eat eldar for breakfast. Anyway, I would rather throw something tough out there to engage and distract, while the rest of my lays down fire.

For a tau army the support and defense element might actually cause the most damage while the enemy chases after the fast moving and melta-armed piranhas.

If that's not so, then the Tau have to take on an entirely different and perhaps more difficult strategy.

Adam Hunter said...

I think the biggest problem is that you're looking at a guy who spent YEARS mastering his Eldar army and are trying to apply his tactics to a Tau army.

While the two armies have some similarities, that's like playing an Imperial Guard army having read about Tyranid tactics.

While I'm not saying Farsight is rubbish (I'm planning to field him in the future), he's very expensive, especially with the extra bodyguards and I'm not a fan of putting all my eggs in 1 basket.

Can I suggest that you take my usual Tau army design for a field test, read my tactics and see how you get on.

I've been playing Tau for 2 years now. And while I may screw up from time to time (I'm sure Fritz does as well, but doesn't want to openly damage his rep), I am forever learning new things.

So go play some games! Reading other player's tactics is helpful, but will never be as good as your own real life experience.

UltraLemming said...

Well Adam, I do read your blog and I have been slowly incorporating some of the aspects of your list into mine. Namely the Skyray will see its first tabletop performance soon.

I have thought about what would make my army better and crisis suits(or more of them) seemed like the obvious answer. I have also been thinking about fielding two command crisis suit teams(the very one you use so often) as a more 'dakka dakka' option.

Everyone I have played in my game store thus far(well in the past couple of months) plays a largely 'in your face' army, or has one large 'in your face' unit. Orks, space wolves, terminators in land raiders, deep striking terminators, chimera walls...

The idea was to use farsight similarly to how you run your commander battle suit team - JSJ around a tank wall. BUT, they also form a capable counter assault unit. Another benefit was the fact that it had the option to be a rush the enemy unit, like how Fritz runs his council. Albeit a relatively slow one.

I, personally, believe this unit would form a great asset to me, especially in the gaming environment in my area.

Adam Hunter said...

Yep, that's what I've been thinking of using Farsight for as well.

My list is 1500pts, so at 1750pts I'd add another of my Tau Battlesuit command teams. I just need to build and paint them.

As for the Skyray, remember that it's not a hammerhead. You use it to increase your chances of eliminating targets. This means your often couple it with the Broadsides or Battlesuit command team. Usually the +1 to hit, -1 to cover save works best.

Make sure you fire the markerlights at the same target. It's too risky not to.

Old Shatter Hands said...

Adam, thanks for your suggestions. I read your blog and it is awesome. Your battle reports are great, the conversions, everything. Top-Notch!
I also read Fritz's. He's caught on to what 5th edition is about so well that I think that most of his tactics can be used in any army. The tactics he uses are mostly conceptual. About a way of thinking about the game and that's what I'm interested in.

I've been playing Tau since they first came out. Back before the vespids, skyrays and piranhas. I'm comfortable with the army. I know I can win games by doing the Tau dance. What I've seen is that most Tau armies these days look the same. Mine looks just like yours, with little significant variation. I'm trying to push it farther and see if the army structure of attack-support-defense can be applied to the Tau. I think it would throw your opponent way off guard if a Tau army went right for the throat. He's expecting the Tau dance and instead he's hit with the killing blow from the get-go. How awesome would that be!!!

I've decided to test it out. Next friendly game (I've got a tournament this saturday)-5 piranhas are going right for the jugular. Reports to follow...

Adam Hunter said...

I've tried the killing blow and we usually don't have the firepower to do it right away.

You have to soften them up for a few turns first.

True, all the good Tau armies do look very similar. But you can say the same about Chaos armies.

I have some new tricks up my sleeves I'm waiting to try out though.

I'm actually going to attempt some this weekend in my apocalypse game.

Old Shatter Hands said...

Bring your camera, man, would love to see pics!

...Maybe the killing blow should happen a later in the game. Spring it on him a couple turns later, when he's rushed out into the open.

Bringing opponents into the open is key to Tau. The Kauyon. Maybe that's where we should focus our to entice your opponent out of safety. Most guys I play do that without any encouragement because they are rushing to get into close-combat as soon as possible. but that's another discussion.

The tourney this weekend should be a good test. I am going to try to assigning my Shas'O, Ionhead, and Piranhas into an attack role, pathfinders, deathrain suits, and Railhead into support. Fire Warriors, Broadsides and Shadowsun into a defense.

"ok so here we are. we'll see what happens. more to come."

Old Shatter Hands said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
UltraLemming said...

In regards to the piranha thing,

I just remembered that you planned to put flechette dischargers on all of the piranhas, well on AdvancedTauTactica there was a controversy over how many wounds the enemy assaulting unit would take if charging a squadron of vehicles with flechettes.

So, how do you play it? Or have you never actually run such a squad?

In that case, How WOULD you play it?

Old Shatter Hands said...

Ultralemming, after reading about this rule discrepancy my brain hurts...We always played it that all engaged models attacking a piranha squadron with FDs get wounded on a 4+ before making their attacks. With only one FD roll per engaged model. But after reading that thread, I'm not so sure we did it right. I believe the correct way to do it would be to say you get 1 roll per engaged model per FD. This is a broken piece of wargear but its an expensive piece of kit that only comes into play IF your piranhas get attacked in close combat. You have to get your opponent to choose to assault you before you can use it. Plus if your opponent is in agreement of how FDs work in squadrons, they are going to avoid assault and shoot instead.

I have run my piranhas with flachettes a couple of times, but they rarely get assaulted...of course I didn't use them as an in-your-face assault unit...which I looking to try out soon. Reports to follow.