Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Tau of War: Deployment

Setting up your army is the first step toward victory in any mission of 40k. This is especially true for Tau for a couple reasons. Firstly, we don't have the speed of the Eldar to rapidily re-deployed whenever needed, so you need to set up with a plan. Secondly, the Tau army posseses a lot of high strength, long range guns, like Railguns and Missile-Pods. They can disable your enemy's army in the early turns of the game so you need to set up with good lanes of fire. Thirdly, smart deployment can lure your opponents into your kill-zone and influence their movement throughout the game. 

Deploying First and Taking First Turn
The roll for deployment and first turn is an important one. Tau Armies excel at either situation, going first or second. I generally prefer to go second and let my opponent choose table edge and then deploy his army.

However, if I am forced to go first, I'm not shaken at all. I will study the board and look at all the different angles. I'll be looking at the table edge or quarter from my opponent's perspective. I look at avenues of approach. I study large pieces of terrain. Possible places to move to get into grips with the enemy. Things he'll be looking for too. Then I will choose the table-edge to counter those things and set up accordingly.

Going Second
Having the choice to set up last and move last is the ideal situation. If I have the chance to go second 99% of the time, I'll take it. You have two options when going second. Reserving everything or deploying and only keeping your 'fish in reserve.

As a general rule, I won't reserve everything unless I am playing against a shootier army like Imperial Guard. There is absolutely no point in setting up your army just to have to remove half of it to first turn shooting. Imperial Guard have more fire-power and their own versions of markerlights (orders, bring it down and fire on my target). Standing up to their fire power is foolish. Use your wits to beat them and don't waste your units needlessly by setting up. Other armies to reserve everything: armies heavy on the Space Marine Drop Pod, Daemons and any other army that has to deep-strike in. I am guessing Nids will have the option for an all Drop Pod army now too so watch for falling eggs.

Deployment and Reserves
Broadsides hold the center and deploy in cover. They are going to have full reign on the board the first couple turns and then get bogged down in assault with enemy units later in the game. This is acceptable, as it gives your army some breathing room if units are tied up fighting the giant battlesuits with 2+ armor saves.

Piranhas are deployed directly in the center of the board. If there is a big piece of terrain that can completely block line of sight, I place them behind it. With the Disruption Pod upgrade giving me 4+ cover, this isn't completely necessary. I want them in the center of the board so they are not committed to either flank. This way, durng the game they'll be able to move out to attack wherever needed.

My Hammerheads will then be placed forward a bit together on one of the two flanks, but near my Broadsides to create the illusion that I want to hold the center with my whole army. My XV8s will set up behind them and move with them, circling the wagons. Together my Hammerheads and Crisis Teams will form a mobile firebase that slides away from my Broadsides as the game starts.

The idea being that my opponent will be drawn to the Broadsides while the real firepower moves away to reposition away from any assaults.

Devilfish form the defense element of your army and need to be preserved to claim objectives in the final turns of the game. I always put them into reserve. Reserve to preserve. The Devilfish are late-games stars anyway being objective-claimers and having short range weapons. There is no need to deploy them on the board. As they come on from reserve set them up to claim objectives or to stay out of trouble.

That's the basics of my deployment. It's much better to have a plan going for deployment going into the game rather than trying to figure it out as you go. Even if it's not perfect, you'll still have a leg up on opponents who haven't thought it out beforehand.

Happy Hunting, Shas'La!


Sholto said...

Useful points. Our armies are quite different, so I have other deployment issues (mostly what to do with my Kroot and pathfinders), but much of what you say relates to my own forces as well.

If the game is objective based and you don't _need_ the piranhas to block movement or kill AV14, you are usually best to hold them in reserve, keeping them alive to contest objectives towards the end of the game.

I often split my Hammerheads up, one in each table corner. With their range there is no downside to doing this, and it makes your enemy split his forces if he wants to assault them both.

Pete W said...

That's some very good thinking there OSH. It's important to think through the different ways that an army plays in order to find the most effective way for it to deploy (or reserve).

I like the use of Broadsides as a sacrificial anchor as they are something that I know how hard it is to avoid focusing on. I might even put a squad of kroot in cover in front of them to really add to the illusion (and make it scoring if need be) and to tempt more of the enemy in.

I'm looking forward to getting more Tau so I can start trying out some interesting plays.

Anonymous said...

Nice little summary of important points, to be sure. I am an advocate of creating a deployment matrix that incorporates mission, deployment type, and inferiority/superiority comparisons to firepower, mobility, and mass armies. I've found that this has helped me to establish broad pre-game outlines for strategy that better allow me to make changes on the fly during the game, particularly when faced with an enemy that I might feel overwhelmed by.

Pearlygates said...

It's only been a few months now since I started holding F/W's in reserve, and giving them D/fish too! But I notice that my setup is similar to yours OSH....

With the ecception of setting up my heavies. If I have two tanks, I keep them together; Amoured wall. But I tend to spread my broadsides out on opposite sides from my tanks so that I have relative heavy firepower spread across my table edge to cover any advance wherever during each turn.

My question to you is this. If you take TWO squads of Broadsides in a game, how would you set them up?

At the moment I'm trying to picture your setup; In my head it seems you have your force all to one side, apart from the Piranhas in the centre, and nothing on the other. Perhaps if you could show a photo/vid of a typical 'Old Shatter Hands setup please.

Are you still not planning on fielding Pathfinders yet? you did say a while back you were tempted on bringing markerlights back into play!

Old Shatter Hands said...

I haven't been fielding pathfinders much. But then again I haven't played my Tau in the past couple weeks. I think I may come back in February with a new list that incorporates them but for now, I'm sticking with what I have.

Video was just posted. I made it last weekend. So Pearly, you have powers of foresight.

D'Narb, I'd be really interested to see what this matrix looks like. It's sounds really cool. I'll check your blog for more info.