Monday, September 20, 2010

Joining the Tau Empire Part 4: Dual Firebase Set Up

Once you've got a good understanding on how to defend a firebase, it's a good idea to split your forces in two and deploy a firebase on either corner of your deployment zone. Doing so means your enemy now has two firebases he needs to take out, rather than being able to focus all his power onto one. Due to the range and mobility of Tau weapons, the firebase can actually work together and support one another. The important thing is to set up your forces so that each unit can target the majority of the board. As you set up consider the weapon ranges. Missile Pods and Plasma Rifles should set up closer to the center, while Broadsides can be as far away as you like. Piranhas are set up in the middle of the board so they can support either firebase depending on your opponents avenue of approach. Click the image below for a diagram of a dual firebase deployment.

If you are dealing with outflankers and behind enemy lines abilities from Wolf Scouts and Ork Kommandoes, you'll simply have to deploy some drones, string your broadsides and any other spare infantry units along the table edges to prevent them from crashing your firebase party.

If set up well, your opponent has a couple choices. He can decide not to advance and instead out-shoot you. Guard and some Krak-Missile Spam Space Wolf Armies will try to do so. The good thing is your getting plenty of cover saves from your Kroot Screens and you have plenty of firepower to throw back at him.

GW has made most of the popular armies close-range fighters so the enemy will most likely choose to advance.  There are a couple ways he can do this. He can focus on one firebase and throw everything he has at it. Once it is destroyed, he can then turn to face your other firebase. If you're unlucky enough to have a big piece of terrain directly in the center of the board blocking line of sight (like on every table at the NOVA Open), this is the best option for the enemy. He can use the terrain to limit one firebase's shooting. Because of the Tau's mobile firepower, he will still face the majority of your firepower before he can connect with your forces at close range. Don't forget the lessons from the last article, use your piranhas and drones to block his advance as much as possible.

In an ideal world however, you'll be set up for a pincer move. One firebase takes the brunt of the attack, throwing piranhas drones and kroot to block his advance, while the other base swings around to pour firepower into his side and back. The idea is to bring the power of your entire army onto his attack.
Alternative, the enemy can split his forces and choose to engage both firebases at once. This is very nice for the Tau because you can use piranhas to block the advance and then use the fire power from the opposite firebase to hit side armor and minimize cover saves from intervening models. Your Broadsides, instead of firing at front armor that is advancing on them, fire on the side armor of vehicles advancing on the other firebase and vice versa. Piranhas as always move out to block and defend. Here I've got three units of piranhas, two get committed to blocking the enemy while the third moves up a little to the center, ready to pounce and melt something the next turn. Click the diagram below to see how the crossfire works. 
Either way, because of the Tau's range and mobility, the enemy will be facing your entire army's killing power at once. This is particularly effective against small elite armies like Space Marines, Blood Angels and Daemons. It's more difficult against Imperial Guard and Space Wolves because their armies are larger and typically carry more shooting. Eldar have trouble dealing with this set up as well, because it almost negates their speed advantage because wherever they move, you have a unit that can shoot them.  

Questions, Comments, Ideas on how this could be improved? Please comment!


DimmyK said...

Only by taking another hammerhead and another squad of battlesuits is all I can say. It is a very good setup after all

Lord Lizard said...

I am using these tactics and enjoy your blog and this series very much. Just one question, do you seem to be able to pull of wins on tournaments with these tactics and this army?

Old Shatter Hands said...

@Lord Lizard, I general do OK at tournaments. I went 2-2 at NOVA Open and that's pretty typical for me. I think I could do better if I was better at practicing what I preach. There are times, I go against my better judgement. in my opinion, Tau are a soldily mid-tier army. I tend to crush the older codices including, Eldar, Chaos Space Marines, will do OK against Space Marines, Daemons but I have trouble against Blood Angels, Guard and Space Wolves.

Lord Lizard said...

I played at ETC and ESC so I faced a lot of though competition recently, using these tactics. I was able to hold my own ok but I found you can almost never get a sure win with tau, it's always down to the wire. I think it's mainly because of our fragile scoring capabilities and low leadrship. Also, some spells are immensely tough to face, like fear of the darkness. Thoughts on this?

Antisocialnerd said...

OMG i love this series it's officially my field manual ^_^

Old Shatter Hands said...

@Lord Lizard, what kind of list are you running?

Low leadership is an issue with Tau and that's why I've started doing something crazy...I use an ethereal. The ethereal gets a lot of slack but I think he's very much worth it for the re-roll. I put him in a unit of 10 fire warriors or 8 pathies or even a full squad of Broadsides. The key is to have too many big threats that shooting the ethereal isn't worth it. It helps deal with low leadership but sadly doesn't help against some psychic powers.

Nat X said...

My only comment is it might be vulnerable to deep strike. Looks pretty solid though.

How do you deploy for DoW?

Old Shatter Hands said...

@Nat X, the same way. The two units of Kroot get deployed as troops, they actually infiltrate to get in the right positions. Then with DofW everything just moves, runs, assault jumps into place for a good turn 2 of shooting.

The only deployment type it doesn't really work for is Spearhead.

Lord Lizard said...

Lat tournament (1750) I ran:
9 plasma/missile suits incl shas el 6 firewarriors
2 kroot squads, 10+7 and 10+3
2 piranhas
6 pathfinders w/ devilfish
2*2 broadsides w/ just one shield drone each
1 hammerhead

I will try ethereal next time.

Old Shatter Hands said...

@lord lizard, Yeah that's a foot list and it really suffers from low leadership. It's a solid build and it's pretty much the "Tau mono build" which means it's competitive. I'd try to fit in either an ethereal or shadowsun for leadership buffs, preferably an ethereal. The thing is, you need a unit to put the ethereal in, some unit that is unlikely to ever get shot at. I used 10 fire warriors for that. He might do well attached to those pathies if you deploy them far back within your firebase.

Nocturus said...

On the topic of the tactic itself, what about placing a full squad of Pathfinders in place of the center Piranhas to provide support for either firebase as well? It might also entice some players who know how much more deadly other units become when supported by markerlights to march right up the middle between the firebases.


Harman Smith said...

I notice similarities between the Kauyon and the japanese martial art of Aikido.
Wait for the enemy to strike, then use the foe's momentum and energy to inevitably bring him down, harmoniously using your troops to fluently eliminate threats with a stylish, yet by principle easy manner.

I noticed such a thing only now, with these diagrams. Silly me!

Rus'El said...


I have used these tactics in the last three games and it has made a huge difference!

The first game (1000pts, Capture and control, Pitched battle) was against our resident Ork player who has been doing extremely well. Things were stacked against me from the start as the whole board was area terrain pretty much so my firepower was somewhat compromised. However, as the orks came closer the kroot screen did it's job and I was able to decimate his forces with the guns of the Tau.
At the same time my piranha was able to contest his objective. If the game had ended there I'd have forced a hard-fought draw. Unluckley for me it didn't and he managed to destroy my piranha with some lucky 6s! :(

The second game (1000pts, Seize ground, DofW) was against an assault based Templar army. Being DofW set up he was able to set up too close for comfort and so my kroot were killed in the first turn (only have 12+6 unit of Kroot/Hounds. Need another). Still, the kroot sreen worked giving me 1 turn to redeploy and start to thin his lines. My drones and piranha blocked as I poured missile pods into his units. Eventually I was able to out manover him and comfortably secured a draw with my DF+6FW securing objectives and my piranha and suits contesting. BUT, here comes an IMPORTANT LESSON! Keep thinking YOU CAN WIN!!! I had such a bad first half of the game that I thought that a draw would be the best I'd get. However if I had only spent a minute looking at the situation at the start of the last turn I would have realized that I could have in fact won! I just needed to deploy my FW and fly the DF 12inchs to contest. You live and learn.

Final game I played last night (1500, Annihilation, Spearhead) against the Orks again. I deployed my two HH and my unit of two BS on top of my hill with a unit of eight FW just in front. At the base of the hill I had my two units of three XV8 (TLMP,F) and two DF on either side with my Shas'El and piranha in the center. Kroot screen in front with 50% in woods. Basically I deployed my FW out of their DF to bolster the fire base and protect my BS from his Kommandos that were waiting to infiltrate. My drones and Piranha blocked and I used my suits in conjunction with the empty DF to act as mobile fire bases, one either side, and to act as decoys. Needles to say I annihilated him by turn five and winning 10-4.

With your help OSH you have given new life to my Tau.

Thank you,


Kiten said...

I find the practice of splitting your army in two efficient and independent firebases to be one of the most compatible with the Tau Empire's codex, regardless of what you want to accomplish by doing that.
This is because the army just doesn't care to be a little spread out- on the contrary, while most Tau units do get better firepower while standing close to the enemy, they'd rather have the enemy as far away from them as possible so they can do their game of target denial and ranged killing.

Good article, Ol'Shattah, both for the series and for what it itself is.

Nat X said...

@OSH Thanks for the advice. I'll try a 1250 trimmed down version next time I play.

Marshal Wilhelm said...

Fear of Darkness:
Whilst it is mean against Tau who do need a hybrid build, how many dudes bring it?
Orks are immune when >12
Chaos Marines with Ld 10 and icon drop to Ld 8 with re-roll is 92.2%
Marines auto rally.
Nids have leadership bubbles.
Many races have psy-hoods and or are Meched up.

OSH; I was speaking to one of the Wolves from SWG blog and suggested cue cards as he often draws Capture and Control. Maybe you need the same thing to ward of the red mist? ~ I blame your connection to BA.... :P

It seems you are turning your peers into WAAC Tauites :D Lol. Look at Rus'El, he is out of control!!!11!! /jk

Lord Lizard:
I am not sure you need x2 pathfinders. Take 8 in one squad and save points on the Fish.
Perhaps drones for the Suits and some more Hounds.
What do you think?

Marshal Wilhelm said...

I forgot to say this.

Can we have a Spearhead set-up diagram for this losy too?

Anonymous said...

You use kroot as a wall, but does that not mean what your suits fire at get a cover save?

Old Shatter Hands said...

Yes, but only if the kroot obscure the targets you are shooting at. Sometimes the Crisis Suits are tall enough to shoot over without the target being obscured.

bob10182 said...

Just to let you know I used the dual firebase and managed two victories versus spacewolves on friday. The tau are very much alive and kicking. I didn't have any piranhas and only one squad of kroot but I made it work. Thanks for the advice and for giving me a reason to use my tau after ten years.

Sentinel said...

Just found this, and I have to say it's great advice. The principles cross over to many other armies, and is no less relevant a year into 6th edition. Great stuff!

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