Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tau Tactics: Economy of Force and Focusing your Firepower

One of the greatest things about the Tau in Warhammer 40,000 is the long range weaponry and the mobility of the units carrying them. This combination allows you, the Tau player, an ability which most other armies lack, the ability to focus your firepower where it is needed. Good Tau players will have assigned roles for each unit and will use the mobility of those units to bring that firepower where is needed. For example, if you have a unit of Crisis Suits with twin-linked missile pods(Deathrains), this unit is best at killing rhinos and other light vehicles. The jump-shoot-jump ability of the their suits gives you the ability to choose your targets where other static units would simply be force to shoot at whatever is in range. Crisis Suits on the other hand can move to their targets without forfeiting firepower. 

I tend to steer clear of static units in my army list for this very reason. Too easily your opponent can negate their effect by staying out of range. The sole exception to this are my Broadsides, but their weapons have a 72 inch range so set up in the middle, nothing is out of range.

For my army, I generally tend to assign my Deathrains to taking out transports, then my Fire Knife Suits target marines or monstrous creatures. Hammerheads take out troops and Broadside fire at tanks, Piranhas move out to target AV14. Each unit has an assigned role and my mobility and range, allows me to move to those targets, regardless of terrain and my enemies deployment. No unit should ever be left without purpose and the means to achieve that purpose, i.e. mobility or range. This is economizing your force. 

Economy of force is the principle of employing all available combat power in the most effective way possible. In Warhammer 40,000 this means that you are firing weapons at what ever they are best at firing at. The easiest example is firing a meltagun at vehicles instead of a unit of 30 Orks or firing your burstcannons, wrongly, at a Rhino and hoping for a 6 on the armor roll. Simple concept really that comes naturally to most players. It's important to achieve this economy of force whatever army you are playing, but more so with Tau  as we cannot roll people in the assault or field any uber-units that can take all comers.

Along with achieving an economy of force, the Tau's mobility also give you the ability to bring your firepower to bear on the decisive point, be a cluster of objectives on the board, your opponents main attack on your base in capture and control, or those easy kill points in your opponent's army. 


Anonymous said...

Imho, one piece of kit that helps Tau to emphasize these concepts is the target lock. Consider the workhorses of the Tau: XV8s, and more specifically FireKnives.

The target lock allows the lead suit to take a different weapon loadout than the rest of the team, allowing the unit to fulfill its main roles of targetting transports and killing MEq.

My lead suit is armed with a missile pod & twin flamer. This allows it to simultaneously deal with light infantry in cover or target a second transport, whilst the other two suits perform the typical FireKnife role.

I think this gives the Tau something very unique in 40K: the ability to field a very versatile unit that doesn't completely disadvantage the unit when it chooses to perform a secondary role.

After all, I think it's an immensely underappreciated luxury to be able to twin flame a unit of Eldar Pathfinders with one suit and and the same time throw 4-8 S6-7 shots downrange towards a Falcon.

Old Shatter Hands said...

Great point D'narb, I'm thinking of trying that unit out. Is the lead suit a Shas'el with twin-linked flamers and missiles?

Anonymous said...


I'm indebted to you for your tactical advice. My Cadre is slowly being shaped thanks to your sound advice, and I'm certainly winning more games.

It sound so obvious now to use your firepower to its full potential and use the Tau's maneuverability to dictate what enemy units YOU want to target. It wasn't so obvious to me in my Shas'La days I can tell you.



Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Actually, I run three pseudo-FK teams... one is a Shas'El with an AFP and missile pod (and p-relay, for what it's worth) attached to two normal FK suits. The other two units are as described below. All three teams have the same role assignments, though.

- 1 Shas'Ui Ldr, mp, tl-fl, hwtl, hwbf, bk, 2 sd
- 2 Shas'Ui, mp, pr, mt

jarv said...

Hey OSH,

long time lurker here - I have a question about photo in this post - I'm really interested in you Combat Patrol list. Will you post any info about it?

And thanks for the great insight and inspiration ;]

Captain Yukka said...

That's pretty much the way I'm trying to go with my Cadre at the minute - keep everything moving and pick things off at range.

One thin I've found with regards to the Broadside's is that I've been reluctant to take them over a second Hammerhead in my list as I find that although they are generally more accurate than the Hammerhead that I'm only getting a couple of turns of firing off before they get assaulted due to the lack of mobility where as I can pretty much keep the Hammerhead out of trouble.

Old Shatter Hands said...

Broadsides are difficult to keep from getting assaulted. For the most part they are sitting ducks. Unless you can wipe out all your enemies fast units, you'll have to adapt to that inevitability. I generally sert up my broadsides as lures for the enemy, while the rest of my army keeps its distance. Broadsides are going to kill stuff in the fist couple turns though so I'm not worried if they get assaulted by turn 3 or 4, unless your opponent has power weapons, the broadsides can be a great tar-pit unit.

You can also protect your XV88s with kroot around them.