Wednesday, April 18, 2012

After Action Thoughts on Tau (Part One)

Following on from my battle reports of my Tau army's exploits at Open War XVII, I wanted to share some of the lessons learned and my general thoughts on the competitiveness of Tau in the current tournament scene. As I've said previously Tau aren't a forgiving army to command. If you make a mistake with a unit of Grey Hunters you can rely on them to hold their own regardless. Do the same with some fire warriors or battlesuits and you'll lose them quickly.

I'll start of by examining my list, the original plan for it and how it performed at OW17. Tomorrow I'll look at what I could do to improve it if I were to take it to a tournament again. Anyway, here's a reminder of my Open War list:

1,749pts of Tau Empire
Shas'el w/ fusion blaster, plasma rifle, shield gen, HWMT - 107pts
2x Crisis Shas'vre w/ fusion blaster, plasma rifle, targetting array, HWMT, one DC with 2 gun drones - 184pts
Shas'el w/ fusion blaster, plasma rifle, shield gen, HWMT - 107pts

2x Crisis Shas'vre w/ fusion blaster, plasma rifle, targetting array, HWMT, one DC with 2 gun drones - 184pts

2x Crisis Shas'ui w/ T-L missile pod & targetting array - 106pts
2x Crisis Shas'ui w/ T-L missile pod & targetting array - 106pts

6 Fire Warriors (Devilfish w/ disrupt. pod) - 145pts
6 Fire Warriors - 60pts
6 Fire Warriors - 60pts

5 Pathfinders (Devilfish w/ disrupt. pod) - 145pts
5 Pathfinders (Devilfish w/ disrupt. pod) - 145pts

2x XV88 Broadsides w/ targetting array, team leader w/ DC, 2x shield drones, HWTL - 200pts
2x XV88 Broadsides w/ targetting array, team leader w/ DC, 2x shield drones, HWTL - 200pts

Army Strategy
Command teams can either be deep struck against gun-line armies/heavy weapons teams or deployed for extra anti-armour/infantry punch. These units should be able to alpha strike a combat squad of marines once the rest of the army has destroyed their transport. The gun drones also have a chance to pin any survivors. Their meltas can bring down heavily armoured targets if the broadsides either can't get a shot or have been destroyed. Hopefully the combination of sacrificial gun drones and the Shas'el's invulnerable save will keep them alive.

The crisis teams are pure transport killers. I originally had flamers on them for anti-horde but found that it was better to keep them at range and have the improved accuracy of BS4. Once all transports are dead they can help with anti-infantry by forcing armour saves or instant killing GEQ characters.

The fire warriors are obviously the objective holders. They borrow the pathfinders' devilfish which help the command teams to deep strike accurately when required. Depending on the opponent the fire warriors will either remain in the devilfish or disembark to add fire support. It's worth remembering that against IG or Eldar they can wound infantry on 2+. Their devilfish can be hard to shift with AV12 and near-permanent cover save. If your opponent is shooting at the transports then they're ignoring the battlesuits and that's fine by me!

Early in the game the pathfinders help the broadsides/missile teams out by stripping away cover saves from enemy vehicles. Should they survive long enough they'll then help the fire warriors/command teams by either improving their BS or removing cover saves. When possible it's worth remembering they can modify enemy leadership when taking pinning tests too. As I've mentioned, the added advantage of aiding with deep strike comes in handy.

The broadsides require no explanation. Frankly, if I had more models I'd happily drop something else from the list to have more of them! I've debated before about the pros/cons of having targetting arrays over stabilisation systems. It'd be an even easier decision if there weren't pathfinders in the list but it does mean their markerlights can be used to strip cover saves instead of needing to boost BS. If I had 3 man teams of broadsides I think I'd take ASS's but with 2-man teams targetting arrays mean that when splitting fire you've got a much better chance of taking down 2 targets. With the two shield drones they can take a disgusting amount of punishment but their vulnerability is always their leadership value as my first opponent at OW17 demonstrated.

What worked and what didn't at OW17
When not running from the board, the broadsides were predictably excellent. Despite some frustrating damage table rolls they were devastating to all three of my opponents. The problem was not having enough of them! With another team of 2 I'd have felt a lot more confident against all 3 opponents.

The pathfinders were a bit hit and miss in these games. Against the BA I used them on the wrong targets and they died pretty quickly, against the IG they helped with cover save removal but I think I'd have still won without them and against the orks they simply allowed my opponent to get closer quicker by consolidating after wiping them out. However, in all 3 games they seemed to be targetted for shooting when there were better things to shoot at. Whilst they can certainly be a force multiplier they aren't much use on their own. I could understand using some small arms fire but in some cases my opponents were firing heavier stuff their way. Each team scored a couple of hits per turn as you'd expect and at one point I hit with all 5 from one squad giving me BS5 and no cover saves against some orks.

The trouble with the pathfinders is that they're just too static and too flimsy. Their locator beacon thingies are handy but in games 2 and 3 I was better off deploying my suits instead of deep striking. It's a shame there aren't really many viable alternatives for getting markerlights into the list. You can give a fire warrior team a shas'ui with marker and targetlock but then you're getting them out of their transport too soon and one marker isn't going to achieve much. Hopefully in the new book they'll find a better mechanic for them. To be honest I'd settle for markerlights being made into assault weapons and the pathfinders having stealth. Overall they were probably just about worth taking. Since I'd have bought the fire warriors a devilfish each anyway I only spent 120pts on the pathfinders.

About half the points of my list are spent on crisis suits. They're the real meat of the army. At Jolly Toys the commander teams were excellent but I think that's because the rest of the force wasn't equipped correctly. Now that the missile teams have targetting arrays and the broadsides have target locks they outstripped the performance of the command teams. In each game the command teams were useful though. In game 1 one of the teams alpha-struck Mephiston, game 2 they were popping chimeras and leman russes up close and in game 3 they helped thing out the nobz mobs (even after swapping their commanders for squigs). The question is, could the points be spent better. I'll discuss this more tomorrow but suffice to say I think they can.

One of the differences with this list over previous incarnations was that I had less fire warriors in each squad. I actually think I'd have done better with the 9-man teams I took to Jolly Toys. Mind you, if I'm going to drop the pathfinders then they might not be as effective.

OK that'll do for today, come back tomorrow (if you aren't bored already) and I'll be talking about what I could change in the future.

3 comments:

  1. I know that we dont particularly subscribe the the same Tau ideals but I would probably say that in this type of list the pathfinders are not going to provide you with as much benefit as they may do in alternative lists. They do give you the benefit of re-rolling deep strikes which is useful, but they tend to give the best bonus to armies with a "quantity of fire" approach... which yours certainly is not.

    I think that, given your experiences, your army will be better served with more in the way of "direct fire". It sounds like you want to put in more broadsides but you may also want to consider an option such as piranhas to add to the armies mobility, contesting potential, or to provide close protection for some devilfishes... those small fire teams (as I'm sure I've said before) sit very uncomfortably with me!

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  2. Nice wrap up.

    I'm surprised to see no mention of Hammerheads as a posible option though. They do a number on heavy infantry and can be used against tanks in a pinch.

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    Replies
    1. I've spoken about hammerheads before. They're simply not as good as broadsides!

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