With the NOVA Open only a couple weeks away now and sporting 96 participants in 40k alone, it is really gearing up to be one of the nation's largest tournaments. This many participants is a really good thing as we're going to see a huge variety of armies. There will be the run-of-the-mill Guard and Space Marine armies but we're also likely to see lots of the obscure and I am really looking forward to playing against some armies I don't get to play against as much, like Sisters of Battle.
The challenge is going to be great. There are lots of guys going there with the sole intent of crushing opponents with their hard-core lists. My goal is four good games of 40k I can be proud of. Placing with Tau is going to be difficult. Sure, people might tell you that Tau are one of the most competitive armies in 40k right now, but I don't buy it. Tau have their strengths, but their weaknesses are fatal and unforgiving.
The NOVA format requires that players meet the primary mission goals and as well as secondary mission goals in order to score battle points, increasing your ranking. I've practiced this format a bit and I find that I getting the secondary mission goals along with the primary mission goals is quite challenging- surely a testament to quality of the tournament.
I'll be running a Fire Knife Shas'El with Targeting Array, a Deathrain Shas'el with Target Lock, 1 unit of 3 Death rains with Guns Drones, 2 Units of Fire Knife Suits with Gun Drones, 4 Pathfinders with Devilfish upgraded with a Pod, 2 units of 6 Fire Warriors in Devilfish, 2 units of 10 Kroot with 5 Hounds each, 3 Broadsides with Arrays, 1 Hammerhead with Railgun and 3 Piranhas, 2 of which form a squadron. The army sports 11 missile pods, 4 railguns, 7 plasma rifles, 4 Markerlights and 3 Fusion Blasters. Arrayed out on my display board for battle this army looks formidable and large.
All the battlesuits fire their weapons every turn at priority targets while the infantry, vehicles and burgerbots of the army provide defense. Kroot take up positions out in front and only spring out to attack units as they close with the battleline. Burgerbots disembark from vehicles early on to provide supporting fire and then move out to get in the way of things, allowing my battlesuits to keep firing.
The Piranhas' role will be to move out, get in my opponent's face to block and distract him from approaching my lines too quickly. They provide defense and can threaten large vehicles like Land Raiders, things my Broadsides are hard-pressed to destroy on luck alone.
In Victory Point missions, the army castles up a good distance from the enemy and torrents them to death. The key to this tactics is to make sure all the tanks in the enemy army are destroyed as quickly as possible. Why? Tank Shocks. The Tau castle is potentially vulnerable to tank shocking unless you can get your Devilfish and Piranhas in the way. It really is a house of cards that needs constant management to maintain. Blood Angels are particularly good at wrecking a Tau defensive position because their tanks are so fast and can quickly get into a good tank shocking position. Most players don't consider tank shocking an option due to the popularity of meltaguns but once they realize the Tau's poor leadership, it quickly becomes the most effective option for defeating a Tau army. By all means, kill the tanks as soon as you can.
The other NOVA missions are Table Quarters and Objectives. Over the past year or so since 5th edition has been out, I've found that I've become quite adept at objective-based missions. The list also has a good amount of deployment and reserve options that make these easier. The main strategy will still be to create a fire base but I'll use my usual bag of tricks to claim and contest objectives. Piranhas, Devilfish and Kroot will need to survive to the end for me to win these and I've got lots of experience in doing so.
Table Quarters is a bit more difficult. Troops are not needed to claim them, you simply have to get more points into the quarters and you've got them. This means the most effective units for doing so are my Battlesuits and Hammerheads, while my Devilfish, Piranhas and Kroot are low-value and thus will make better units for defense and distraction.
The army is fleshing out. My second squad of Kroot is nearing completion which means I can start on that Broadside conversion this weekend. The XV-22 is also in the works so I will post WIPs soon.