Monday, January 24, 2011

Part 5: Rules of Engagement

After the Conflict GT, I was thinking about how differently Tau play than other armies. It's almost as if we're playing with an entirely different set of rules. Then it donned on me. The Tau don't have their own set of game rules, they've got their own set of Rules of Engagement. I've begun the process of transcribing these for your indulgence.

1) Use wound allocation to prevent casualties from shooting, use wound allocation to cause casualties in the assault. You want your units to be durable enough to soak up return fire. Luckily, our main firepower units, like Broadsides and Crisis Suits, have a good armor save and access to drones for wound allocation. In the assault however, the last thing you want is to be bogged down. Use wound allocation  to suffer casualties so that the assault ends on your opponent's turn, leaving his unit out in the open for a counter-attack in your next shooting phase.

2) Never advance unless you absolutely must to claim an objective. Unless you need to gain ground and claim objectives, there is no reason to advance on the board. It's tempting to do so to get your troops into rapid fire range, but resist, a good Tau player knows when to exercise restraint.

3) Extrend terrain with Kroot Walls, Drones and Pathfinders. See the picture below. I've used my Kroot to extend the cover save provided by the ruins. The Kroot have the majority of their unit in the terrain and therefor the entire unit gets a cover save. Because they are strung out, they confer cover saves to the Crisis Suits, Drones and Broadsides behind them.
4) Take lots of missile pods and railguns. Both of these weapons are essential to the Tau army. Both have long range, allowing you to keep your distance without wasting firepower and both are high strength, able to reliable put wounds on anything in the game penetrate most army. Railguns are destroyers. They are effecient at wrecking vehicles and the like, while Missile Pods are supressors. They cause lots of damage rolls on the vehicle damage chart preventing tanks from shooting, Most Tau armies need a healthy supply for both of these weapons.

5) Fire Warriors ain't for fighting. In my experience, Fire Warriors are most valuable as cheap scoring units in Devilfish. They aren't good shots and so lack the ability to cause significant damage and aren't numerous enough like Kroot to be a durable unit. Keep them in a Devilfish and use them to claim objectives.

6) Devilfish ain't for fighting. Just like Fire Warriors, Devilfish while durable, aren't very capable fighting tanks. While at first you might think that upgrading them with Smart Missile Systems, Targeting Arrays and Multitrackers might be a good idea, look at the points you're investing into the vehicle and do the math. 7 S5 AP5 shots at BS4 from a tank thats costs 120 points is silly. Better to go cheap, get yourself a Disruption Pod and be done with it. After all, the free Gun Drones are more valuable than a 20-point Smart Missile System any day.

7) Build Firebases that have an escape route. When building a firebase, consider your enemies most likely avenue of approach and build in an escape route. You can do this by positioning Devilfish to provide cover for suits as you move, or by using Piranhas to stall an enemy advance while you move-shoot-move your way out of trouble.

8) A good Tau army is like an onion, it has lots of layers and makes people cry. By layers I mean lots of cheap units that can put in your enemies way blocking him from assaults, speed-bumping essentially. My latest Tau build has 19 units in it. About 50% of these are 'layer-units', ones whose survival isn't important and who can move to get in the way of things. Use these layer-units to bait opponents into a kill-zone or simply block him from killing your more valuable suits and troops.

9) Never waste your drones without purpose. Free Gun Drones, or burger-bots, are a Tau player's best friend. But you've got to protect your friends. Like a good friend they'll protect you, too. Always do your best to make them difficult as possible to kill. Make sure they have cover save and only commit them when you need to block an assault from happening. Their little twin-linked carbines will most of the time cause no damage but you can sometimes get lucky and immobilize a Rhino with them. Keep them around, they are an asset that shouldn't be wasted needlessly.

10) The best armor save Kroot have is staying out of range. While you always want your Kroot to be getting a cover save, be mindful of weapons that can ignore cover and stay out of range of them. Sternguard's bolters, flamers, and the like should be avoided if at all possible.

11) You're mobile, not fast. Don't forget that you are playing Tau, not Eldar. Our forces are mobile and can maintain the a high rate of fire on the move, but they aren't fast. Deployment and destroying your opponent are important to ensuring that you can get where you need to before the end of the game. Don't even deploy thinking that you'll have to the time or speed to redeploy if needed. Tau need to clear the board before they begin moving, so concentrate on dealing damage first.

If you've got more Rules of Engagement, please post them in the comments section.


Anonymous said...

Tau, unlike every other army, *require* skirmishers: relatively cheap units that draw enemy firepower and/or movement.

On that note, like Piranha and Kroot, I propose also including the humble Devilfish as a capable skirmisher.

Its cargo is only 60 points but because it's scoring, the enemy absolutely must stop it in 2/3 games. In annhilation, keep the Warriors out.

Its front AV12, combined with a dpod, and being hit on 6s in assault will allow it to survive, without costing you too much in return.

After all, if we're required to bring the bloody thing along with our Pathfinders, we might as well put it to good use.

Pete W said...

Tim, this is a truly excellent post and a must read for all Tau players in my view.

You are one of the few players I see really pushing the envelope with an oft-outclassed codex and making it extremely effective.

Xyhelm said...

I love to see a post on escape routes. That seems to be one of my weaker tactics. More detail about strategies about how to do that would be helpful!

L0rdM0nki said...

Fantastic post. I would consider this a perfect primer for the new Tau player (an increasingly rare breed).

It's also good to see other Tau players arriving at many of the same conclusions on how to succeed in the current environment. I think the only place we differ is on Plasma. I like it...alot :) (remember my MSU army list? :D)

Regarding escape routes, I find placing Broadsides opposite the side of the escape route to be key. Broadsides are a great lure and a late game sacrifice of the unit(s) can keep your suits alive an additional turn or two.

Munky said...

Great post mate and very informative.
As it has been said before, way to go keeping an old army alive.

I will be delving into Tau in the near future so articles like this are a godsend.


simondroog said...

Great post! As a new Tau player I find your insights invaluable.

Now all I need to do get a few games under my belt asap.

Keep it up :)

Anonymous said...

The only thing not worth sacrificing are your fire warriors. In the last turns having FW on objectives is the most important. If it means sticking your suits in the way of an inevitable assault, so be it.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, great info and analysis.

One quick question; broadsides and screening.
I see this a lot, but have to ask; won't the kroot in front of the broadsides also give a cover save to what the broadside is shotting at?

As tau, I know WE hate cover saves on our, do the broadsides see over the kroot?


Managarm said...

I agree, very good post! Puts pretty much everything into a nutshell.
Makes me think about taking my Tau army from the shelf to battle again.

While I agree on most points, in my experience devilfishes work quite well when kitted out for war and with flechettes. Admittedly I have never tried to use it as a cheap transport, so I am a bit one-sided with my experience.

And I agree that a tactica post from an experienced player (you :-) ) on how to escape the inevitable assault would be very useful. That's always the point when I fail with Tau.


Rathstar said...

Great article as always. How about the following rule:

If being assaulted is inevitable try to use it to help the rest of your army. Examples include:

Move toward the enemy to minimise his forward movement giving more time for the units behind.

Moving towards one flank while your other units move towards the other flank. If the enemy still assaults you he will have a longer distance to travel to your other units.


Anonymous said...

Spot on. The BRB says something along the lines of "looking from the point of view of the firer" for determining cover saves. As broadsides (and crisis suits) are a good half a body length taller than the kroot they are not granting a cover save as long as they are close enough to the suits. If further away they will start getting in the way of firing lanes just like normal.

bob10182 said...

Well amid all the Tau rumors the old Tau codex is still going strong. I haven't played with them in ten years and I recently brought them out and my last five games have worked out with 4 victories and 1 draw. I credit the wins to the great tutorials that this website offered and it allowed for me to really get back into 40k with my Tau.

Anonymous said...

hi there, love the blog, its what got me into tau. anyways recently had a fantastic game. look for your input and two things i ran with. i took a similiar list to you 1850 list on youtube, minus one fire warrior squad and devil fish, put kroot in, bumped to 2k added a unit of stealth suits each with a marker drone plus team leader marker light.

also curious as to what you think about my HQ setups. one el with plasma, missle, fusion HW multi with 2 gun drones, other el with twin link missle with fusion , HW tracker and target lock. it worked out very well.

Tim said...

@ anon, sounds good. As long as you have healthy supply of missiles and railguns, and a solid defense structure of kroot and piranhas, you should od very well. You have some wiggle room on the commander load-outs so use as you like!

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say, although this blog has been out for a few years now, i've always had a strong liking for Tau. And although a 5/6th edition codex still seems quite a while off yet, it's a pleasure to be able to see other people such as yourself constructing strong tactics for what now seems an outdated race. I will be looking to buy some Tau and starting up a 1,500 points army. Thanks for the tips and advice, much appreciated :)

Kurotobi said...

Sure Tau need cheap units due its high cost but instead if u upgrade them and know how to use it, it would be costly but very deadly.
The tau certainly are mobile due its different units path, and certainly u couldnt be more faster becouse of the cauyon path but if you use mont'ka u can raid and harass your enemies even further.
Well thats my though and how i play, using a combination of air cast and tank mobility with fast deployment of troops just like Blitzkrieg. But everyone have their strategies, choose whatever adjust your needs.

Anonymous said...

I am a new Tau player and needed some strategies. thanks for your blogs on the Tau!

It's really good to know that I'm not the only tau player in the world! Thank you so much.