Monday, July 16, 2012

Tau in 6th Edition


Let me start off by saying that I haven't had many games of 6th edition yet but here are some of my early thoughts about Tau and the way 6th edition has/will affect them. I'll probably put more posts up on this subject as I get more games in but this is what I've got for now.

Target Locks
The 6th edition FAQ for Tau clearly states that this bit of wargear no longer does anything. Now obviously in 5th it technically didn't do anything as target priority tests don't exist but most people played it as the model with a target lock could fire at a different target to the rest of the squad. For suits this meant 5 points for the ability to split fire (10 if you include the necessary team leader upgrade). This was particularly great for broadsides as with twin-linked S10 AP1 you had a really good chance of taking down two vehicles with a single squad. For example, in one game at Open War I took down two vendettas with the first shots of the game! Now in 6th I'd probably need 6s to hit them but with twin-linked it's a 1/3 chance which is pretty good really.

With target locks gone we lose some of our capacity to kill stuff but all is not lost. For 5 points you can still upgrade one of your broadsides to a team leader who then becomes a "Character". Whilst this isn't much help with vehicles it means that any 6s to hit against troops can be allocated to a specific model. That means a decent chance of picking off a power fist or anything else that's a threat to your suits e.g. lascannons, plasma gunners etc. Now I'm not gonna pretend this is as good as a target lock but at least it's an essentially free upgrade as you nearly always take a team leader.

Not that they were used much anyway but the skyray is even more gimped by the lack of target lock. This means both of it's markerlights have to be fired at the same target and it can no longer launch it's own missiles. Bit of a shame but as I said it's not like people took them anyway. Personally I reckon in 6th edition they'll get "Skyfire" but that's mostly wishful thinking.

Blacksun Filters
Every Tau player knows that range is their friend. Very few armies can put down the same amount of fire at extreme range. The problem was, in games against those pesky Necrons, Night Fighting for a few turns became a bit of an issue. Acute Senses on all of the suits helped but that rule is now essentially useless. With the new Night Fighting rules you must be within 36" to see a target (as before really) but also the target gains either a +1 or +2 to their cover (depending on range). This is pretty annoying. So with Target Locks becoming useless, something that used to be pretty useless (before Necrons) now becomes awesome. The Blacksun Filter now gives Tau units Night Vision meaning they can totally ignore Night Fighting. The rules for Night Vision only require one model to have it for the whole unit to benefit.

This means that if you give a squad leader (including for Fire Warriors) a Blacksun Filter they can totally ignore Night Fighting for just 3 points! The only other army (that I can think of) that gets this benefit is Dark Eldar. Now in 5th edition this wouldn't have been a big deal but in 6th there's a decent chance of Night Fighting coming into play in every single scenario making Night Vision a good thing to have! Obviously on any suits that have 12-18" range it probably isn't worth giving them Blacksun Filters but Deathrains and Broadsides almost have to have them.

Bonding Knives
Not much has changed here but the ability to regroup at any time with full Ld is pretty handy. Now this isn't to say you aren't going to be cut down in combat but if you manage to get away there's a pretty solid chance to regroup now. The question is, even at 5pts, are Bonding Knives worth it? As far as I can tell the restriction of enemies within 6" no longer applies so there's a better chance of being able to regroup now but with the limit dropped from 50% to 25% to still regroup the Bonding Knife isn't really giving you much extra.

Thanks to AP1 now giving +2 on the damage table it's not difficult to figure out that those railguns just got even better. That being said you still need to roll 4+ on the damage table to explode the vehicle so it hasn't made things all that much better. Slightly more chance of blowing it up balanced against just wrecking a vehicle. For Tau, blowing up a vehicle is useful as it helps keep your opponent at range. The problem is that vehicles are a lot softer anyway so maybe glancing things to death is the way to go.

Railguns are certainly handy when it comes to trying to claim the victory point for "First Blood" though!

Double FOCs at 2,000+ points
Whilst it remains to be seen what the UK tournament scene will adopt as its "standard" points level. Part of me hopes it stays at 1,750 as there's already an influx of cheesy lists onto the internet making the double FOC thing seem like a recipe for monotony. For Tau it could mean having a lot more suits on the board but it remains to be seen if this will be good or bad.

Fire Warriors
With the changes to Rapid Fire all weapons of this type have got a boost but none more so that the humble Tau Pulse Rifle. The main difference in 6th is that Rapid Fire is now half range not 12" which means a precious 3" boost to the double tap range of a Pulse Rifle. Couple that with the ability to move and still fire at 30" and it should be easier to keep your Fire Warriors safer.

The main problem for Fire Warriors was always their perpensity to fold when faced with even a slightly superior combat unit (i.e. every other unit in the game). Overwatch goes a long way to levelling that playing field. Whilst the true impact remains to be seen, assaults certainly aren't as likely as they were. The new wound allocation means that that horde of Orks/nids travelling towards you will not only have to withstand shooting in your turn but also in the turn they assault. Even with Snap Fire a double tap from an S5 gun is pretty nice. Taking models from the front means that unit might never make it into combat with your flimsy warriors.

I'm currently trying out Photon Grenades as well. These not only take away the charge bonus but also give your fire warriors Stealth from those pistol shots before the charge. Now I never used to take them because they were wasted points on a unit that I wanted to die on the turn it got charged. However, the possibility of thinning out the enemy enough to hold it in combat for a couple of turns or even fluke a win means that it might be worth giving these a second look.

New Tau Codex
Most of the rumour-mongers are saying that the new Tau book will hit the shelves in early 2013. Personally I'll be surprised if we see it before next Summer but who knows. In a game where shooting is even better than it was before the possibilities for the new book seem endless. The one thing that I'm interested in more than anything is the possibility of a flyer. I'm not talking a forgeworld one being used in 40K but an actual main rules flyer. Some people reckoned this would come before the book with a WD datasheet but either way I'm pretty excited about the idea.

So that's what I'm thinking so far about Tau. I certainly think 6th edition has given them a boost on the whole as they're one of the few armies that didn't rely on vehicles too heavily to be effective. As I've said, my main concern is how they'll deal with flyers but we'll have to see what the new book brings.  I'll post more when I figure more out!


  1. Thanks for the post...

    However, its just the infantry target lock that is gone (page 28) not the vehicle target lock (page 21). Just an FYI.

    Also, now that stealth get +3 to cover (stealth and shrouded) this may be nice.

  2. Accessing your allies can really boost the power of your units as well, especially with the inclusion of a 'Battle Brother' rated Eldar Farseer ally with Divination discipline psychic powers.

    With 4 powers at his disposal and the ability to join Tau squads you have some good opportunities to really wreak some havoc.

    Bubble wrap a unit of Broadsides with a large unit of Fire Warriors with the Farseer joining the Broadsides.

    With the 'Perfect Timing' power the Farseer can give the unit he's joined (the Broadsides) the Ignores Cover USR. Great for punching through tanks that the crew thought they'd concealed!

    Cast 'Malediction' on a unit targeted by the Fire Warriors and force the enemy to re-roll any saving throws they make.

    If you are fortunate enough to gain the 'Foreboding' power have the Farseer leapfrog forward to the Fire Warrior unit as the enemy draws near and give them the ability to make Overwatch shots at their full BS and gain Counterattack too. Throw Defensive Grenades into the mix and the Fire Warriors actually have a pretty decent chance against assaulting units.

    If you've swapped a dud power for the 'Prescience' power you could even have the ability to re-roll any failed to-hit rolls on those Overwatch shots.

    An allied Eldar contingent can be a heft chunk of points but the synergy they bring to your Tau army is not to be scoffed at.

  3. Had a couple fo games withe the Tau and tehre are a few things...

    First of all I need to clarify that, for some reason, the FAQ removes the target lock for infantry (and suits) as found on pg 28 of the codex. However, the rules for vehicle mounted target locks are not on that page. They are completely different and found on pg 31. This means that vehicles can still have target locks... Important for the sky ray and railheads for sure.

    Next up I agree whole heartedly with your reasoning on the BSFs. At the end of 5th they were becoming mandatory selections for at least broadside team leaders due purely to the threat of fighting necrons. The rules now cement the BSF as a go to selection. As you point out, Deathrains should probably get them... that is if you can avoid the lure of putting flamers on (as they are pretty nasty on overwatch). Having said that though - we do need to think about AA... and currently I'm trying to work out if a Deathrain with target array hits on BS6 or BS5? What is applied first, the target array to the models BS, which then gets reduced to BS1, or snap fire which gets the +1BS from the target array??

    BS5 twin linked is not too shabby (compared to... well... not much other choice).

    On bonding knives, I don't think they are worth it, unless you take farsight and get them for free because the only time it comes into effect is when your unit is below 25% in order to avoid the negative modifier to the test. It does mean that bigger units will be less disadvantaged too... and this will help improve the ability of markerlights and overwatch etc.

    So far, railguns have done for me exactly what you've exlplained. What I've been finding is that it is possible to glance some vehicles to death, but it won't happen as much as you think. And, dedicated anti tank weapons will deal with a vehicle in one go anyway... railguns and fusion blasters are nasty. Saying that we are in a nice boat in the sense that our S5 guns DO have a good chance of causing glances... I had a lucky devilfish glance a speeder to death in a single round the other day!

    In general, fire warriors have come out about even. You have to remember that whilst they have a bit more in the way of mobile fire so has everyone else... so they will be targetted as much as they can target. One thing I tried out was EMP grenades... these things can give a more than nasty surprise and I'm trying to work out if they are priced about right or not... photon grenades are certainly an interesting option now because there are a number of ways and tricks that might be useful for trying to hold combats.

    One such trick might be to have an xv8 with shield gen and or shield drones to challenge nasty characters. (As far as I can tell, the drones fight with the character in the challenge as they are wargear!) You can use team leaders which are now characters to do this for your crisis teams... but a shas'el can do this and join any unit (even fire warriors!) and he can also be given a 2+ armour save which for all intents has become quite difficult for lots of things to deal with in combat.

    Stealth suits were good before (imo) but they are awesome now...

  4. something i have been doing which can be awesome against T3 armies (IG DE E etc) is taking an etheral plus 11 guards (bs 4 fire warriors)sticking them in a vanilla fish and charging forward, disembarking with the etheral at the front of the unit and start shooting stuff. enemy retaliates killing your etheral and all your units take a leadership test and then gain prefered enemy ( re rolling 1s to hit and wound). with just 1 markerlight the squad of guards is bs 5 re rolling those pesky 1s and then wounding on 2s once again re rolling those frustrating 1s. this goes for the broadside 1s when ur shooting terminators etc. just make sure u include shas uis in every FW squad and if ur lucky with the war lords command traits u might even get a leadership bubble with the shas o. something else very worth investing the 190 points or so is a elder farseer with 2 or 3 psychic powers spirit stones so he can cast 2 powers a turn and runes of witnesing which make all enemy psychers cast on 3d6 and suffer perils on anything above 12. then pick divination and 5 of the 6 powers are very usefull for tau and if u get the useless one just exchange it for the primas power which u cast on a unit within 12 and the re roll all hits :D

    1. with the elder troops just take 5 dire avengers for 60 points and they might capture an objective or something

  5. What the hell are you talking about with target locks? "Some people played it.." Page 28 of the Tau Codex.

    "Target Lock
    This specialised target acquisition system enables the model to target a separate enemy unit to that engaged by the rest of its own unit."

    That is the primary function of the Target lock. The nonsense about target priority tests was just to allow the split fire to happen, without the split fire function, what was the point of the target priority test? GW changed the rules and removed target priority tests. But Split fire still existed in 5th, and it still exists now. Ony the Tau no long get it, unlike Space Wolves Long Fangs.

    Losing the Target lock is the single largest slap to the face any army received in 6th, and it was done to an army that already suffered horribly from 6th by not receiving any psychic abilities, any flyers, any Skyfire even though the Skyray fluff specifically says it's a good AA Platform. Waving a hand at losing Target Locks as being no big deal because "some people" were just using them wrong is ridiculous.

    1. The rules for target locks were related to Target Priority tests. When GW removed these there were some people who claimed that a Target Lock still required a test to work. Not me by the way, but I did meet some people at tournaments. I don't agree with them but without a proper clarification from GW it wasn't clear so people were making an assumption either way.

      I would hardly call it "the largest slap in the face any army received in 6th". Genestealers not assaulting from Outflank would be a contender though amongst many others. In actual fact for 5 points to split fire Target Locks were underpriced. Removing them wasn't the end of the world. If your army relied on them to win then you already had problems.

      Tau didn't suffer horribly either. They're better thanks the things listed here and a few others too. S5 rapid fire can now glance AV11 stuff to death easily. Besides, Tau were hardly a superpower in 5th!

      Also, have some patience, 6th is barely a month old and you're complaining we didn't get any new stuff! Who did? Only Imperial Guard got Skyfire and where are the Space Wolves Skyfire/Flyer units??

      Wait and see what the new codex brings when it eventually arrives. I'm pretty sure we'll get a flyer, get psychic resistance (even though plenty of other races don't have it e.g. Dark Eldar) and the Skyray will probably get Skyfire or we'll get an alternative that does.

      If you actually read it I don't say that losing them isn't a big deal because people were using them wrong. I actually don't think it's a big deal because we still have access to very effective weaponry at a reasonable price. As I've said Tau aren't great in 6th but neither were they in 5th. It takes more than a new rulebook to fix one of the oldest codexes!

      Anyway, it's irrelevant. Apparently they're going to change Target Locks back in the next round of FAQs.

      Every army in the game had some good and bad things happen to them in 6th edtion. It just needs people to stop playing 5th edition armies with 6th edition rules and accept that it's a different ruleset.



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