Monday, April 15, 2013

New Tau Codex - After Action Thoughts

As you may have gathered by now I'm obscenely excited by the release of the new codex. I've already posted my first impressions but over the last week I've played 4 games at 1,850 with them. The first three games were used to try out as many different units from the new codex as possible whilst the fourth game saw me use, what I think is a really competitive list and table Matt's competitive CSM/Daemons force. Here's my experience of the different units so far. I'll be covering each in more detail as part of my Unit Reviews series but these are some after action thoughts.

HQ
Farsight - the main reason to take him is the "bomb" of suits he can accurately drop in. Frankly once he's done that he's a waste of points though. He doesn't have Iridium armour (probably because he's an outcast) but this means for me a normal Commander is better. Besides some of the Warlord Traits are just as good as the no scatter one.
Shadowsun - a better option than Farsight I reckon. She gives her unit Stealth and Shrouded and with her twin-fusion blasters and advanced targeting system she's a threat to enemy chars. Once again she's competing with Ethereals and Commanders, both of which can be excellent.
Aun'va/Aun'shi - not had chance to try them yet
Darkstrider - BS5 markerlight is great but better in a fire warrior unit than pathfinders as his -1T rule is wasted when using markerlights. Could be used to devastating effect with Outflank.
Ethereal - weak if not hidden in a unit but Ld bubble is handy. You're pretty much always going to use the extra shot on pulse weapons as it's brilliant for both shooting phase and Overwatch. Question is whether powers can be used from within a devilfish though. Nothing saying it doesn't unless they FAQ it.
Cadre Fireblade - good for ranged shooting with Fire Warriors and has BS5 markerlight but Ethereal gives wider effects. Combination of both could be devastating though.
Commanders - could spend ages working out all the combinations but with some of the Warlord Traits him and his unit can be excellent. Bodyguard aren't really worth 10pts extra despite auto-LoS.

Troops
Fire Warriors - same as ever but Supporting Fire with Ethereal can be great with good unit positioning. Big squads are the order of the day.
Kroot - cheap outflanking scoring units are great but don't expect them to survive long

Elites
Crisis Teams - team them up with a commander and there are some seriously nasty combinations. Not having to pay for multi-trackers allows more twin-linkage.
Stealth Teams - when they're trying to compete with Crisis there's no contest and 30pts is far too much for single wound models. Sadly they don't do anything the rest of your army can't do.
XV104 Riptide - as I've discussed in my post they're fun but expensive. We'll see them in competitive play for a while but I think people will realise they aren't the dog's dangly bits as they first thought. Certainly nice to have one in friendly games though.

Fast Attack
Pathfinders - love them even more than I did before. No compulsory devilfish means they're much more appealing. Only drone I find useful is the grav one though. Keep them cheap because they'll be priority targets.
Vespid - not tried them but struggle to see a place for them. If they'd been given two shot guns then maybe.
Drone Squads - could add 4 BS2 markers for 56pts but pathfinders are cheaper. Not much point taking them since they can't score/deny.
Piranhas - cheaper than they were but with BS3 they need markers to make a mess of AV14. 100pts to kill a land raider is good.
Sunshark bomber - killed a full unit of cultists with the bomb but most other targets would shrug it off. Drones are great as they give you the ability to fire at different targets with Skyfire.
Razorshark fighter - lacks punch vs AV12 and I think the bomber is more flexible

Heavy Support
Broadsides - I do miss S10 but S8 AP1 vs flyers is good. Nasty even with a single markerlight. Should've done a lot better in my games but I kept rolling 1s on damage table.
Hammerhead - only tried it with Longstrike but he's a beast. More on him soon but without him it still suffers from the same issues and has to compete with Broasides.
Sky Ray - great for hitting flyers with markerlights to boost your broadsides but has to stay still to be effective with missiles meaning it needs cover or else is vulnerable with a lack of Jink.
Sniper Drones - didn't try them but can't see them finding a place in a strong FOC slot

Conclusion
I was worried that I'd find using the new Tau army a little boring as it's essentially roll dice until things die. However, the combination of Ethereal, Supporting Fire and Markerlights takes some skill to get right. Planning your shooting phase can be difficult. Spent most of the games with a grin on my face as I picked up handfuls of dice.

I was mostly playing against AV12 flyers and flying monstrous creatures so given how well the broadsides faired against them they're going to be brutal against AV10/11. Matt only crashed one of his MCs despite one taking 7-8 tests. Had they fallen they'd have certainly been gunned down by massed pulse fire. Old Tau games were very much a see-saw effect where you felt you were doing well early on as your broadsides gunned down vehicles. Later in the game the assaults were crippling though and the game was often lost as soon as your opponent reached your lines.

I have to say I love the way they've sorted Tau in assaults. They should never have become assault masters but needed some kind of protection. The free photon grenades for pathfinders and fire warriors, devastating Supporting Fire volleys and drone shenanigans make them pretty slippery. This can often lure an opponent into the open to try to charge only to find himself out of range and gunned down next turn. Matt regularly had MCs on a single wound and was scared to charge fire warriors for fear of Overwatch. That's a great feeling as a Tau player.

It's a bit sad that the new units (flyer/riptide) aren't better but they're far from awful. The HQ slot is probably the most difficult one to decide. Pretty much everything in there could be good. I'd love to take an Ethereal and Fireblade but a Commander is just too tempting. Next battle I have (probably against Jamie) will be given a detailed battle report.

14 comments:

  1. Honestly, O'Shovah has uses for me beyond being a bomb. While the bodyguards are expensive, they have access to the signature systems and taking them frees up some elite slots. Farsight is also an unknown danger in assault, especially against vehicles.
    I've been playing around with 3 man stealth teams holding a markerlight/targetlock on the team leader, which doesn't even take up his support slot. Giving the leader a fusion blaster since he already has a target lock, and then a drone controller with marker drones makes them an actual marking unit.
    You need to look at their points and rules to see that they are technically terminators. In most cover they will be getting a 2+ cover, added into their mobility infiltration and healthy firepower they do some interesting things for your army.

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    1. It's not that I think he's a one trick pony but for the points he doesn't do much that a commander doesn't do and he only has a 3+ save in comparison. Do you really want to be assaulting with your suits?

      Stealths are terminators right up until something gets too close and charges. Sure they can Jump-Shoot-Jump but that normally means leaving cover and taking dangerous tests. Terminators die to weight of fire and stealths will be taking more saves than they will thanks to T3.

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    2. Assaulting with all my suits? No. But it does happen, and when it does I've had O'Shovah wipe squads. I never had a problem with him being too easily killed.
      The point I was trying to make about the stealth teams is that they have become a force multiplier for me. Just personal experiences in the new codex.

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  2. Shadowsun is definitely the boss - she can be a constant pain in the ass for your opponent. She also gives her unit infiltrate remember! While T3 is a shame (I wouldn't want her to be my warlord), she still kicks ass - stick her in a unit of crisis suits with some t-l fusion blasters and target locks (1 vectored retro, maybe a neuroweb if you want to be extra annoying) & some shield drones, and infiltrate her in some cover in front of any of your enemies mech elements - watch as they're afraid to come within 15" of her and her posse! :P (Remember with stealth + shrouding that's 2+ cover in any piece of 5+ terrain)

    Enemy hasn't got anything worth melta'ing - that's fine, put her in a unit of 8-10 pathfinders and watch them never ever die!

    The commander is the boss too - being able to hand out that delicious tank hunters is just excellent - him in a unit of Deathrains with velocity trackers are a much more manoeuvrable version of the HYMP Broadsides!

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    1. It really comes down to cost. There are some excellent ideas that people are throwing around but when you actually add up the points are they really cost effective?

      Commanders are excellent and we're only just skimming the surface of the possible uses for them.

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  3. Think supporting fire is a great rule for the Tau to have. From what I saw in the battle report of White Dwarf, you're right. You do need to think on how you're using these new rule additions for the army. You can do some pretty great effective damage to your enemy, but you need to make sure you're thinking on your feet, not on your seat, because it only takes a few mistakes for things to go down hill really.

    Of course, when you're having fun, the actual outcome isn't really that important. It's enjoying the game that matters.

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    1. Tau take a lot more finesse to use than people will give them credit for. List design is bewilderingly complex and remembering all those upgrades in a game is just as difficult!!

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  4. I'm curious how you feel about marker drone squads joined by a Commander with a drone controller? I played my first game with the new codex on Friday, and had a Commander with Drone Controller, the Command and Control node, and his two Marker Drones plus the 12 from the squad. While I think the 14 markerlight hits per turn has have been a bit much, I think in the future dropping the CaC Node as well as 4-6 of the drones still seem like a strong unit, and without the node I could give the Commander a target lock and some weapons so he can still shoot other things.

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    1. That sounds like an interesting idea. They've got more mobility than Pathfinders thanks to Relentless and are more accurate too. Not sure the C&C node is necessary though.

      They do however, cost almost as much as two pathfinder units which would be able to mark two different targets of course.

      As I've said in previous comments, there are soo many combinations of units that I think we'll see quite a variety of builds.

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    2. This also seems like a little bit of a waste of a commander.

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  5. I've had one game against my fiends the new Tau so far and I have to say that the XV104 Riptide was a massive dissapointment. I just ignored it for most of the game due to other targets being a lot more dangerous, especially the tank commander in a Hammerhead. Disruption pods are still a pain in the ass and without them I would have easily won. The Vespid's still sucked.

    Overall though, I think Tau codex looks strong.

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    1. I got my first game in over the past weekend, and I'd disagree about the Riptide. Not only was it a feared target that helped control the advance on the board in an attempt to avoid it, but I still managed to wipe out more than 2x its point cost with it just due to its range and mobility. It's roughly the same cost as that hammerhead with Longstrike in it, more resilient, far more mobile, and can overwatch/supporting fire without additional point cost more effectively since the vehicle PDTR still restricts the railgun from firing. It does take more strategy to use, but unless you're facing a major heavy vehicle force I can't see how the Riptide wouldn't fare better.

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  6. "Ethereal - weak if not hidden in a unit but Ld bubble is handy. You're pretty much always going to use the extra shot on pulse weapons as it's brilliant for both shooting phase and Overwatch. Question is whether powers can be used from within a devilfish though. Nothing saying it doesn't unless they FAQ it."

    I had a feeling the default answer to this question was 'no' and you needed an Imperial Guard-style "Command Vehicle" rule to use special abilities and buffs.. No books to hand at the moment though to verify.

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  7. I've enjoyed the Riptide, Its good to have a nice st8 ap2 large blast template weapon to throw on power armour. It attracts a lot of attention, and when it doesn't, it quietly looms over the battlefield wondering what it will kill next.

    One thing about Drone squadrons. Had a game tonight where I took 8 marker drones, then put a commander in with them with a drone controller. Having 8 marker lights that hit on 2's is amazing, and much more reliable than pathfinders. This in conjunction with a 12 strong squad of firewarriors with a Fireblade gave me a nice firebase to eliminate units.

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