Friday, September 10, 2010

Joining the Tau Empire: Beyond the Battleforce

Building on our last post about starting a Tau Army, I'd like to give you 2 options for your next step beyond the Battle force. To review,  we've got ourselves the following.
Troops -12 Fire Warriors
No Upgrades yet. Either 100% Pulse Carbines or 100% Pulse Rifles
1 Devilfish
Upgrades: Disruption Pod (gives your tank 4+ cover save at any shots past 12 inches away), the optional Multitracker (allows you to move at cruising speed and shot your burstcannon and drones) and its two Gun Drones.
Troops - 12 Kroot
No Upgrades yet.
Elites - 3 XV25 Stealthsuits
Upgrades: Team-leader armed with a Markerlight, Hard-wired Drone Controller and 1(or 2 if you've done the conversion) Marker Drones.
HQ- 1 XV8 Commander
Upgrades: Weapons of your choice, acts as your commander. Hopefully you've been smart and you've given him at least a Missile Pod. 

So you’ve got markerlight support, mechanized infantry and a Kroot screen. What’s next? Need more dakka! That's right we need more guns in this army. 

Let's say you're willing to spend about 50 dollars this month and you need to start building on the Tau's strengths to win games. It would be nice to have a Railgun at this point and chances are, you love the Hammerhead model. It's cost about 45 bucks so that might be a good option. 

Alternatively you can use the 50 dollars to buy 2 more Crisis Suits. Let's look at these two options in a little more detail. 


The Hammerhead Gunship - "Mark us a target and we shall destroy it."

The Pros
Tough: The Hammerhead is an AV13 vehicle, making it a durable mobile weapons platform. Upgrading it by purchasing a Disruption Pod makes it even more durable.
Firepower: For your first Hammerhead, I suggest you put a Railgun on that bad-boy. This is weapon can be fired on two settings: solid shot at S10(!) and S6 AP4 submunition as a large blast. The Ion Cannon is nice, but for now, let’s get a Railgun.
Mobile: With a Multitracker, your Hammerhead can fire its main weapon while moving at cruising speed (7-12 inches). You can tank shock with it, ram other vehicles and contest objectives. It is relatively fast and ignores terrain as long as it doesn’t end it move on it.
The Cons
Not a reliable anti-tank unit. Even though you get an S10 Railgun, the weapon is not twin-linked so if you miss you miss. Plus it is only one shot, so if you hit and roll a 1 for penetration, you’ve wasted your shot. Alternatively, if you fire your submunition at troops, even if you miss you might hit something. Broadsides are much better at tank-hunting because a Broadside unit of similar points-cost has 2 Twin-Linked Railguns.
One Weapon Tank The Hammerhead, while sporting an secondary weapon system, is really a one-weapon tank. One weapon destroyed result will make it combat ineffective. 

Mandatory Upgrades: Disruption Pod, Multitracker.
Optional Upgrades: Target Lock.
Useless Upgrades: Any others. 


Tactics: The Hammerhead is pretty awesome. It has a huge gun, can still move 12 inches and fire it, and has AV 13 on the front and a 4+ cover save from it's Disruption Pod. It's range with the Railgun is such that you probably will only need ot move to get a better shot that negates cover. The Hammerhead needs protectiong though, as meltaguns make a complete joke of armor. You'll need to make sure this tank fires every turn and doesn't get melted. The best thing to do is keep it at range from the enemy as best as possible. Deploy it in a far corner for example or create your distance by screening it with Kroot. By bubblewrapping your Hammerhead with Kroot, you'll be able to prevent infantry armed with meltaguns getting in range and destroying it. So keep it protected and blaze away. Remember to fire your submunition at troops as priority and your solid shot at vehicles only if needed. 

2 XV8 Crisis Battlesuits - "We strike the Killing Blow!"

The Pros
Mobile Autocannons: Crisis Suits have access to plenty of weapons from Plasma Rifles to Flamers, but only one of these weapons is really needed in every Tau list; Missile Pods. By adding two more Crisis Suits to your army, you'll be filling up on much needed S7, AP4 R: 36 shooting power. Why are they important? Because they're the best weapon for immobilizing and destroying transports. 
Durable: Adding 2 Crisis Suits and attaching them to your Force Commander and giving them Gun Drones, will make for  a pretty durable unit that will not get owned by a well-placed lascannon or meltagun shot like the Hammerhead. 

The Cons
Vulnerable to the Assault: Unlike Hammerheads, Crisis Suits are vulnerable to assaults from just about any unit out there. Hammerheads, with Multitrackers, can move 12 inches per turn and still shoot, so assaulters will need 6s to hit, whereas your Crisis Suits will almost always be hit in assaults on a 3+. 

Tactics: Crisis Suits are there to shoot and shoot some more. Do whatever you can to make sure they shoot every turn. Keep them out of the assault by using drones and Kroot to get in the way, move your crisis suits back and keep shooting. Missile Pods are great too when you can/need side armor shots. Because they're mobile, you can move up a flank of Space Marine Predator and take it out from the side. It might be tempting to Deep-Strike your suits. Don't do it. It's too random and can frequently out your valuable suits in harm's way. 


Next time we'll go over a basic battle plan regarding each of the basic missions from the Warhammer 40k rulebook. Plenty of diagrams this time. 

17 comments:

Luckless Xenos said...

This is a really nice guide for new Tau players. It is simple and works well in competitive mech atmospheres but maybe it is too rigid for the new players who want more personalized lists.

But that can be solved by them taking this guide with a pinch of salt.

Either way great guide OSH.

Marshal Wilhelm said...

Definitely fire the Railhead after Broadsides have shot.

OSH, we all know that Tau are good in both Movement and Shooting phases but are terrible in the Assault phase. Tau effectively lose 2 phases per Game turn to kill people. That means Tau have to make the most of their Shooting phase.

How about some Target Priority listings? It doesn't have to cover all eventualities and usually plans work well in T1+2 but need reassessing past that.

1] Pathfinders
2] Broadsides and Fusion Piranhas
3i] Railhead OR
3ii] Crisis Suits
4] the rest

T1
take out Transports [not Land Raiders]
then fast moving things [Jump packs, bikes, cavalry, beasts]
if any shooting left, suppress AV shooting support [Preds, Razors, Dreads, etc] and try to do it to low AV things first ~ Razors, then Dreads, then Preds.
T2
repeat previous routine if needed,
then take out Land Raiders, and shooty support. [Preds, Long Fangs, Leman Russ BT, etc.]

What do you think of that?

Aloh'Nan'El said...

Just a thought; they could also buy one Broadside and one Suit, and use the two Railguns to make a team of two Broadsides.

Lord Shaper said...

Hey,

I'm just wondering how come your not putting a Targeting Array on the Hammerhead to give it a +1BS?

I always thought that would be essential.

Rus'El said...

@ Lord Shaper,

Hammerheads already come with a targeting Array as standard so you can't add a second one; the effect isn't accumulative.

Rus'El

Rus'El said...

@ Lord Shaper,

Hammerheads already come with a targeting Array as standard so you can't add a second one; the effect isn't accumulative.

Rus'El

Old Shatter Hands said...

@Lord Shaper, unfortunately the Hammerhead already comes with a targeting array and therefore you cannot purchase it a second one.

Good pointers all, thanks for reading.

Lord Shaper said...

That's what I realized after I posted the question.

Last time I ran with my Hammerhead it was hit by a drop pod full of sternguard who targeted meltaguns and destroyed it before it got to do anything...

Firewasp said...

Guess thats one of those moments when a kroot wall would have come in handy.

Harman Smith said...

Overall great tips, oh noble Shatter Hands!

I do have one, juuust oooone disagreement, and that would be your urge not to deepstrike crisis suits.

It can have its uses. Call me perhaps lucky, but I often manage to deepstrike XV8s behind the enemy lines and eliminating threats from a more advantageous position. With crisis suits being deployable at cheap point values (less than 60 for a fusion blaster-wielding monster with better BS) I do suggest the possibility of risking that small slice with a deepstriker at least. If the unit survives, hooray, you saved some points. If it dies, not much of a deal. If it takes a Leman Russ to the grave with it, then it's been a great sacrifice to the greater good, points-wise. Of course, to the beginner this is a ridiculous waste of elite firepower that should remain on the board for more than a short timespan, but at games with moderate size, space for the deepstrikers to land in is not necessarily an issue.

Overall a risky endeavour that can reap fruits, but one should make sure they don't invest too much in it. I think deepstriking battlesuits is a risk worth taking, as it has brought me victory in most games (although I lack your experience). What are your thoughts on this, Shatter Hands? Will you give your wise opinion to this Shas'vre, Shas'O?

~BG

Harman Smith said...

Overall great tips, oh noble Shatter Hands!

I do have one, juuust oooone disagreement, and that would be your urge not to deepstrike crisis suits.

It can have its uses. Call me perhaps lucky, but I often manage to deepstrike XV8s behind the enemy lines and eliminating threats from a more advantageous position. With crisis suits being deployable at cheap point values (less than 60 for a fusion blaster-wielding monster with better BS) I do suggest the possibility of risking that small slice with a deepstriker at least. If the unit survives, hooray, you saved some points. If it dies, not much of a deal. If it takes a Leman Russ to the grave with it, then it's been a great sacrifice to the greater good, points-wise. Of course, to the beginner this is a ridiculous waste of elite firepower that should remain on the board for more than a short timespan, but at games with moderate size, space for the deepstrikers to land in is not necessarily an issue.

Overall a risky endeavour that can reap fruits, but one should make sure they don't invest too much in it. I think deepstriking battlesuits is a risk worth taking, as it has brought me victory in most games (although I lack your experience). What are your thoughts on this, Shatter Hands? Will you give your wise opinion to this Shas'vre, Shas'O?

~BG

Marshal Wilhelm said...

Harman:
This is why I and perhaps others do not DS Suits.

1] FireKnives & DeathRains at *vital* suppression fire from T1. This helps *slow* the enemies rush across the TT to kill blue men.
Not many armies [perhaps Guard alone?] do not start to rush against Tau.

Anything you can do to stun/immobe/destroy those transports is vital. Weapon destroyed is nice against all those Razors we see these days too!

One less Suit shooting from T1 means it is easier for them to get to the Tau in the first place.

2] Reserves rolls can be cruel. You'll probably get them down by T3, but maybe not.
Not reliable.

3] AV things are *much* sturdier than other models. Compare an Attack Bike with a Land Speeder, as both often bring a MM. The ABike can get killed by bolter fire, whilst the Speeder demands s5+ to have a chance against it. Ap 3-2-1 means that all the shooter has to do is hit, then wound and no save has the ABike getting killed. Ap 1 is the only thing that changes how the Speeder will affected. So ML & LC [which insta-kill the ABike and give it no save] still have to "wound" the Speeder and then roll on the damage table, which could do nothing.
A Tactical squad, when firing at either of these two units has 8 bolters to fire in addition to the HW & SW. These do all but nothing against the Speeder but are effective against the ABike.

So sending a Suit into the mayhem is very risky imo. A Piranha flat-outing T1 then cruising T2 is better off. Covers 36".
The DS Suit comes down anywhere, but you have given up a turn or two's movement to the enemy and his tanks will be within the Piranhas 36" anyway.

4] The short range of the Fushion blaster. You have to land within 6" to get a MELTA shot. 1/3 gives you that. 2/3 scatters. Just under half of those scatters take you away from the target [6" is not much to play with, either] Under half will send you closer to the target and a distance roll of 6+" will land you on the target [Mishap!]
Rolling a 6+ is 26/36 likely.

Imperials get away with it with their delicious 12" MELTA range. Chaos Marines do it because they don't have MMs

It is hard to bring the Suit down where you want it.

Get a Suit, place it within 6" of the target and plot out where the scatter rolls will take it, and which distance rolls will take you out of 6". I think you will be surprised.

Marshal Wilhelm said...

Lord shaper:
If your foe had Drop Pod Assault and was coming down T1, you could have deployed Kroot around the Hammerhead, to prevent him getting the Melta benefit.
Point the HH rear off the table so they could only hit the front and side AVs.
Not perfect but something to help your HH survive.

Drathmere said...

This is a great series. I'll try to paint my Tau fast enough to keep up with your articles!

Harman Smith said...

Mr. Wilhelm:

Thank you for your commentary.
I understand what you say and can very well agree with the obvious risks implied by playing the way I play. What you say shall be taken into consideration.

Indeed, perhaps the reason I survive on the board is that the enemy (at least in my playing environment) doesn't do enough to push forward and rush towards me, which allows me to keep most suits in reserves for the later game when their other threats are deployed away from the edge.

I tried out your little thought experiment concerning the scatter dice, yep. Obvious how little deviations from the original strike plan can end up with disaster. High risks are an understatement, especially if the deepstriking team consists of more than one suit.

I shall follow your reasons and legitimations for the next games, probably I'll have a better statistic in the end.

Before I forget, in all my blathering: thank you!

Richard Erwin said...

Can anyone explain to me how the broadsides can see past the kroot screen? They are both infantry so the kroot screen will give anything the broadsides shoot at a 4+ cover save.
Help.

Old Shatter Hands said...

Richard,

Page 21 of the rulebook explains this under Intervening Models: If a target is partially hidden from the firer's view by other models (kroot), it receives a 4+ cover save..." So the kroot have to obscure the line of sight from the broadside. This doesn't generally happen though as broadsides are almost twice as tall as Kroot.

It's about obscuring line of sight, if kroot don't obscure your broadside's line of sight, no cover save is conferred.