This is BrianGeneral’s fourth guide on Warhammer 40000, and this time I’ll return to the original point: talking about a specific army. However, this time I’ll talk about some counter-tactics against Tau, one of the most dangerous army in 40K universe. And I’ll only give some general tactics against them, not from any specific races (Most of them will work on most armies).
As always, comments are always welcome.
Tau is arguably one of the most popular army in 40K universe other than Marines and Chaos, and that’s not without reasons. Other than their good-looking Battlesuits, people want them because of their kick-ass firepower. Even the basic guns of Fire Warriors can threaten AV10 vehicles, not to mention other bigger guns that can be carried on Crisis Suits, Broadsides, and the all-feared Hammerheads. Even decent assault armies will find trouble against Tau because of their mass amount of firepower available to stop even the hardest assault troops, and only the strongest assault armies can stand a chance against Tau. Shooting at them seems not a good idea as well, since they can outshoot most units at range, and their firepower are already devastating.
However, there’re still ways to deal with Tau since they have their own weaknesses as well. By using these weaknesses well, anyone may stand for a chance.
Common facts you should know about Tau
1. They have all kinds of firepower that can literally tear anything in 40K universe apart badly.
2. They suck in CC, worse than Guardsmen.
3. Their Tank-Skimmers are very tough, only matched by those of Eldar.
4. Their army can be very mobile.
5. Their mainstay units are expensive.
6. They have NO artillery. This is important.
7. Jet Packs is an advantage for Tau and a pain in the rear end for most opponents.
These are the points I can think about. Of course there’ll be more, but I can’t remember too much right now.
Ways to kill Tau
Alright, from the list above you know how good/bad Tau is in their areas. However, dealing with their army, generally speaking, aren’t so obvious, so I’ll talk about it a bit in depth, as well as unit counters later.
1. If you want to charge, bring lots of tough/fast troops. I do mean LOTS.
Many players who decide to charge Tau wildly with a strong squad (like Terminators) will only find their numbers falling down quickly but their line seems to be at far. That’s because Tau armies can bring a lot of AP2+ weaponry to tear even Terminators apart, and they shoot well. With suitable maneuvering, Terminators, like any other footslogging units, can never reach the agile Crisis suits while they’re chewing up your units. And against Tau the Rhino Rush doesn’t seems too viable anymore since, thanks to the Pulse Weaponry, even normal Fire Warriors can have a chance to stop these Transports. As such, if players want to charge Tau units, they’ll need to find alternatives, and here they are: Bring in tough/fast CC units or in a good transport.
i) Why use tough troops? Generally speaking, though Tau has a scary arsenal of weapons, their weapon’s Strength is pretty low and scarce. The all-feared Railguns are only available in Heavy Support slot, while Plasma Rifles will be very hard to wound a T7 Carnifex. I still remember the days when I played with an Eldar Player and he brought in 3 Wraithlords and smashed my army. (Thanks god, the new Eldar codex weakened this cheese) Though I’m inexperienced at that time, the pain still surrounds me when one of my friends takes a Hybrid Bugs list and I can hardly do much do to the Flying Hive Tyrants/Leaping Warriors while 3 CC Carnifex come up behind. That’s why I’ll raise this point: If possible, just bring in T6+ units to bear the mass Tau firepower and go into CC by them or covering others to do so. Anything with Feel No Pain can work as well, considering Tau doesn’t have effective weapons to kill off a group of units with those.
ii) Why use fast troops? Well, except Devilfish-borne/Hammerheads and Battlesuits, the remaining Tau army is still a footslogging one. If you’re able to stick into their line and wreck havoc as soon as possible, you’re nearly guaranteed for a victory. That’s why fast CC units like Bikes, Jetbikes, Jump Pack, Calvary or even Transport-mounted squads (pick a suitable transport though) can rock Tau hard.
iii) Why mass troops? Tau is known one of the worst, if not the worst, army with CC capability. Even Guardsmen, if properly-tooled, can gain an upper-hand in assault, so quality isn’t really the key here. What you should consider is the quantity, especially if you’re a low-save army (like Bugs/IG/Orks) since, as mentioned, Tau firepower can blow up mobs of units in no time (Hammerheads’ Big Pie are the worst fear of hordes). Taking lots of units can keep your army fighting and get into CC despite heavy losses. For MEQ then you can also consider the quality of CC since they’re designed to take up lots of firepower before falling, if their number and speed are good enough.
This it’s the conclusion: try to bring as much units for CC if you want to, and make sure most or some of them can move fast. If you’re not depending on numbers like Eldar, then consider picking up high-toughness units to soak-up firepower.
2. If you want to outshoot Tau, bring along artillery with Indirect Fire.
As mentioned, Tau has serious firepower than can send even Monoliths back to their tombs, but despite how good they’re in shooting, they miss out an important thing: Artillery. That is, most of their firepower is depending on direct hits. You can take this to your advantage and give some edge to your army. 3x Basilisk or 3x Defilers hiding behind your lines, if well-protected, can eat up quite a portion of Tau army, especially their en masse Troops and pesky Hammerheads, while Tau will risk to Deep Strike some of their units to kill them off, or just ram on your main line in order to break into artilleries and get shot. Basically, most Tau units who’re exposed can be disposed really quick, so if your deployment is good enough, many Tau players won’t usually stand a chance against artillery------even one with lower Strength (such as Whirlwind) can still be devastating to them, especially to Fire Warriors, so if you have the points and slots, get at least one. Blowing up a squad by a Pie is quite a bargain, and along with your anti-armour weapons, you can effectively stop most Tau armies at bay.
3. Vehicles mean little when facing Tau, but troops can be a nightmare.
Everyone knows Tau is excellent in dealing with armoured units, maybe except the new Eldar (Those new Fire Prisms make me fond of them). With the mass amount of Strength 5+ weapons available to Tau army, as mentioned, even Land Speeders and Rhinos aren’t that powerful when facing Tau in close quarter, while weapons carried by Battlesuits can deal with about AV10-13 at far with some accuracy. And their massed-up, all-feared Railguns can punch through just about anything in the universe with ease. As such, armoured units aren’t very viable and reliable when facing against Tau (unless you bring lots of them), considering their anti-armour ability is so widely-spread instead of relying on a few Heavy Weapons like other armies (again, Eldar is an exception for their Aspect Warriors and other units). In contrast, massed-up units can be a headache to Tau armies. Some may argue: “Hey, their submunitions are blowing up my horde bits by bits!” True for low-save armies (that’s why you have to bring LOADS of them), but if you’re bringing 40+ (I have a list of 61 Marines in 1.5Kpts games with more than enough AT firepower) MEQ units on the field, then will it be hard to win for Tau armies? Their Power Armour can stop most Pulse weapons, while Crisis’ firepower can kill about 5-6 at maximum per turn (providing you fail all Armour saves and Cover saves), while Submuntions can only get about 2 at a time. If you’re keeping a distance with their units, there won’t be a problem for most of your units to keep alive while shoot them to hell.
Well, the above tells pretty much the general ways to deal with Tau. Now we’ll try to investigate in their weaponry and later, their units, and their effective counters. However, I’ll just discuss about IA weapons but not IA units since weapons are more common than units IMO.
Weapons of the Tau
Airburst Fragmentation Projector: The good (bad?) thing about Tau is that they now have some mid-range Barrage weapons, but the bad (good?) thing is that they can only have one. Anyway, if you’re playing armies with 4+ save or better they don’t hurt too much in comparison (And don’t forget they can scatter), but if you’re playing low-save armies, then wish you good luck for having the shots scattered out every time……
Found on: 0-1 Crisis suit.
Threat level: Low-Medium (MEQ) to High (armies with Saves worse than 5+).
Counter: Stay out of them if you’re GEQ, or nail them at far.
Burst Cannon: Unless you’re playing low-save armies you generally won’t see these things around on Crisis suits. But odds are, however, you can find them on Stealthsuits and Tau Skimmers. Thankfully you can take cover or using good Armour Saves to absorb firepower, and they don’t hit too much with BS3, at least. But at least they hurt if they hit, so be careful.
Found on: Devilfishes, Hammerheads, Sky Rays, Piranhas, Stealthsuits, Crisis suits.
Threat level: Low to medium, depending on your armies’ composition (infantry-heavy or armour-rich).
Counter: Just pick the firer out from range. It won’t do too much damage to MEQ and vehicles anyway.
Hammerhead Burst Cannon (IA3): A bit stronger both in AP and Strength, as well as range. Not a viable choice generally, but if someone wants some fun……Meh, they’re still not strong enough since they don’t have Rending.
Found on: Hammerheads.
Threat level: Low to Medium, a bit better than normal ones since it is Twin-linked and improved.
Counter: Just like normal ones, but it has longer range now so be careful.
Cyclic Ion Blaster: Before Tau Empire FAQ came out this weapon can somehow rule the battlefield, but after its release it’s severely weakened. It can’t wound anything with T7 or higher, wound Guardsmen on 4+ and MEQs on 5+, and it can’t even glances any vehicles……Well, you get the picture. However the mass amount of shots from this thing can make sure it’ll hit frequently, and it kills anything under T6 if wounds on a 6. Seems to be a fair tradeoff……
Found on: 0-1 Crisis suit.
Threat level: Very low to Medium-low. It still kills Guardsmen decently despite its low Strength.
Counter: Ignore it unless you’re expecting it going into its range with your weak units.
Flamer: Now you can Twin-link them if you want, but you’ll only see them on Crisis suits. Very rare weapons in Tau armies, but they still have some punches like usual. However, they’re just good against GEQ armies.
Found on: Crisis suits.
Threat level: Low.
Counter: You should be able to outmaneuver them in most cases, kill them at anytime you want.
Fusion Blaster: Tau’s Meltagun. And they’re just the same in stats. It’s something one may not consider much: Against infantry (unless it’s multi-wound ones) it’s overkill, while they need to be really close to enemy vehicles to fire for effect, which the result may fail. The good things that can carry them are Stealthsuits and Piranhas, both can pose a threat to opponents if used right.
Found on: Stealthsuits, Crisis suits, Piranhas.
Threat level: Low for infantry-heavy army, High for armour-rich armies/packed by Piranhas or Stealthsuits.
Counter: Killing the firer at far won’t be too difficult. Or just swarm the firer with mass bodies (not for GEQ armies against Stealthsuits due to Burst Cannons)
Hammerhead Fusion Cannon (IA3): Twin-linked Multi-melta, with a Blast. You shouldn’t see them too often (since Railguns are usually better), but they can be nice additions if you’re expected to face 2+ Saves units like Deathwing……And is still good at killing armour at very least.
Found on: Hammerheads.
Threat level: Medium to High.
Counter: Nail them at far since they’re short-ranged.
Ion Cannon: Another popular choice of Hammerhead Main Weapons for its MEQ killing ability, exchanging armour-killing ability for unit-killing ones. Well, not much to say about it since it’s straightforward in its purpose.
Found on: Hammerheads.
Threat level: High to Very High if you’re playing MEQ, medium for armour-rich armies, low to medium for GEQ armies.
Counter: Nail them ASAP like any other Hammerheads.
Kroot Rifle: Basic weapons of Kroot. Have decent Strength but lower AP then normal warriors’ weapons.
Found on: Kroot.
Threat level: Low to medium, depending on the terrains/scenarios.
Counter: Mow them down with any multi-shot weapons will be enough.
Kroot Gun: Larger Kroot weapons, act like Autocannon but it’s a Rapid Firing weapon. Looks weird, and it’s too rare to be found.
Found on: Krootox Riders.
Threat level: Medium, but not as high as Missile Pods of course.
Counter: Strength 6+ Multi-shot weapons for the win.
Neutron Blaster: New additions to the Tau. Carried by Vespids, they’re powerful to deal with MEQ but due to Vespids’ nature (see later) they aren’t too useful.
Found on: Vespid Stingwings.
Threat level: Medium for MEQ players/vehicles, low for GEQ armies.
Counter: Don’t let them come close to your 3+ Saves units.
Markerlight/Networked Markerlight: They’re not normal weapons that can do damage, but their effects can be useful for Tau armies.
Found on: Fire Warrior Shas’uis, Marker Drones, Pathfinders, Sky Rays.
Threat level: Variable, depending on the usage of them. Medium to High for Pathfinders/Sniper Drones though.
Counter: Leave them alone in the first place unless you really like slaughtering. They do zero damage directly, unless you’re facing a Seeker-heavy army……
Missile Pod: One of the first popular choices on Crisis suits. They’re weaker than Krak Missiles, but you have 2 shots like Autocannons AND it’s an Assault weapon. They can kill most units with a fair chance of success, but best at killing infantry (they shouldn’t waste firepower on AV13 usually).
Found on: Crisis suits.
Threat level: Medium-high to High.
Counter: Stick in cover for GEQ armies, mass-up bodies for MEQ units (your armour can stop them with good chances of success), and nail them at far ASAP once they show up (See at unit entry).
Hammerhead Missile Launcher (IA3): 2 Missile Pods as a single weapon. Not much to say here.
Found on: Hammerheads.
Threat level: Medium-high to High.
Counter: Like normal ones, but you should pay more care since they’re now doubling the shots.
Hammerhead Plasma Cannon (IA3): 2 Imperial Plasma Cannons without Blasts and it’s Twin-linked again. Generally the same like Ion Cannon but it can now hurt 2+ saves.
Found on: Hammerheads.
Threat level: High to Very High if you’re playing MEQ, medium for armour-rich armies, low to medium for GEQ armies.
Counter: Like any other Hammerheads, kill them at range.
Plasma Rifle: Another popular choice of Crisis weapons. Weakened but doesn’t overheat, making they’re good all-rounders except facing armour.
Found on: Crisis suits.
Threat level: High to Very High if you’re playing MEQ, low to medium for armour-rich armies, low to medium for GEQ armies.
Counter: They’ll usually pair up with Missile Pods, you know what to do.
Pulse Rifle: Basic weapons of the Tau. Longer range, higher Strength than any basic weapons in every armies and at least they shoot as well as a Guardsman. What’s to say more?
Found on: Fire Warriors.
Threat level: Medium.
Counter: Snipe them with AP4 weapons at far.
Pulse Carbine: Assault version of Pulse Rifle, and they can pin. Though shorter in range, they’re still great pain for anyone who faces that, especially on Drones. But of course you’re not expecting them in the ranks of Fire Warriors too often……
Found on: Fire Warriors, Gun Drones, Pathfinders.
Threat level: Medium.
Counter: Just the same as Pulse Rifle’s, but dealing with Drones will be a bit more difficult since they’re Jet Pack units.
Railgun (Solid shot): Ah, the all-feared weapon in Tau arsenal. Maximum Strength and AP of all weapons, and you can pack more than 3 if you want. It’s a really nasty gun to be faced by anything under its range.
Found on: Broadsides, Hammerheads.
Threat level: Very High to ANYTHING (especially to armour), maybe except mass-bodied armies.
Counter: If possible and necessary, avoid them. If not make sure you kill them all in one round.
Railgun (Submunition): The famous Big Pie attack on Hammerheads making it one of the toughest multi-role tanks in 40K. Oh well, Fire Prisms follow suit with their new Big Pie attacks.
Found on: Hammerheads.
Threat level: Medium-High (MEQ units, even with mass-body) to Very High (GEQ armies).
Counter: Like what you’ll do with Hammerheads.
Rail Rifle: A lesser version of Railguns, but especially good for hunting MEQs thanks to its AP and ability to pin. When you see Sniper Teams pray for their shots don’t hit you so often after using Networked Markerlights……
Found on: Sniper Drones, Pathfinders.
Threat level: Medium to High.
Counter: Massed-up AP4 firepower on Pathfinders, special treatments on Sniper Drones (later).
Seeker Missile: Hunter-Killer Missile with unlimited range. All you need is to put a Markerlight hit on something and missiles will fly away. Not too viable to kill anything though since you can kill armour by Railguns, and MEQs by other weapons.
Found on: Tau vehicles, since they can all pack 2 of these or 6 on Sky Rays.
Threat level: Medium only, since they’ll only hit on the side from the direction which the Missile’s launched.
Counter: Kill the bearers beforehand so that you won’t even being hit by one of these in the rear, and earning some nice VPs.
Smart Missile System: Quite a range and can fire upon nearly anything in range. It’s absolutely evil to be taken on troops since they’ll find “OMG WTF? Where are these little missiles come from?” It’s one of my favorite weapon for harassing enemies at range. It’s pricy but worth its points, and can be nightmares to those who face it.
Found on: Broadsides, Devilfishes, Hammerheads, Sky Rays.
Threat level: Low to Medium.
Counter: You can’t possibly hide from these attacks, so pray yourself of not being shot (GEQ), or just stand and attack (MEQ).
Unit analysis and counters of the Tau
After you have some basic understanding about Tau weaponry and identified which will be your no.1 threat, now it’s the time to discuss how to deal with them with your units.
HQ: Without the head the snake will lay dead.
Ethereal: With the improved rules for Tau Commanders you won’t see Ethereals on board too often, but sometimes people may spend 50pts for some benefits. Well, it helps Tau with their somehow crappy Leadership and helps with their Morale checks, not to mention a squad of Fire Warriors as bodyguard will be Fearless and +1BS. Due to the crappy nature of Ethereals you seldom see him run solo (at least with 2 Shield Drones), it’ll be either sticking in a Fire Warrior squad as Honour Guard, or joining Broadside squads to boost their Leadership for Target Priority checks. In this case, you’ll want to take him out first since you can send the remaining Tau army back to their line and help your advances in some extent.
It proves somehow easy since they have no Armour Saves themselves and have to rely on others to keep them safe, so you may try to land on barrages on them if you find they’re running solo, or kill off the whole squad first before going for the Ethereal. Of course, sending the squad off will be difficult if he’s sticking him in a Broadside squad, but you can still force saves on them like sending a High Strength Big Pie upon him and his bodyguards (it Insta-kills Ethereal if he failed all 3 saves on his squad). Deep Strikers can also work, but with bigger risk of being killed first before start the killing, especially if they have 4+ saves only or even worse when the bodyguards are Fire Warriors, so if you want to Deep Strike something to kill them all and the Ethereal you have to bring lots more shots that can send them off in one round (Land Speeder Tronados are excellent when dealing with Fire Warriors but you have to bring at least 2 of them to do the trick).
If you want to charge the bodyguards then you may need to be a fast and hardhitting one, considering you still have to fight your way to the Ethereal among the bodyguards, even if you think Tau are crappy in assault they may still hinder your success. Also, if you’re fast enough you can just charge them from behind and directly hit the Ethereal without too much trouble.
Either way, if you see an Ethereal on board, send him off ASAP so that the Tau advance will be halted for a while.
HQ and Elites: If the stratagem is lost, the battle is lost. (Farsight)
Crisis Commanders, Crisis Battlesuit Teams and Crisis Bodyguards: Now Crisis Commanders are compulsory choice of an army, and which is a good thing for Tau. With the T-Array upgrade a cheaper Shas’el is now equally dangerous than a Shas’O (though I’ll keep an O for fluffy feeling in my army, but if you want to be competitive it’s not recommended), and the all-feared Fireknife setting is now even more dangerous. The T-Array also bring Crisis suits more dangerous if they run solo (as a Team Leader themselves) since they can be an effective BS4 units. Of course you can still see normal Crisis squads around since Fireknife Crisis suits are cheaper than before. What’s more, the Jet Pack rules will make the Crisis suits (and Stealthsuits, see below) one of the most annoying units in 40K universe: It seems that they can get you but you can never get them, but is it?
Conventionally, you can’t possibly hit them with normal firing. But there’re still ways to kill them off: The first thing is to use Barrages. As said, Tau has no barrage weapons, so feel free to use some Barrages (especially Imperial Guard and Defilers, where Strength 8+ and AP3 barrages are available) to kill off a group of Crisis suits in one shot.
The second thing is to use some fast chargers to get into CC with them ASAP. Even though Crisis suits are more agile than normal units, they’re still vulnerable to those with Jump Packs, Bikes and most terrible form is Calvary. Using terrain pieces as cover, you can hide yourself from being shot by their tough firepower while approaching them at fast speed. Tau has no Power Weapons at their stock despite their advanced technology, and tanks to their lower Initiative, even pure Assault Squads (or even Guardsmen, if properly tooled) should defeat them with ease.
The third thing is, when they’re (quite foolishly) exposed, to initiate a firefight with them at long range. Tau Battlesuits’ longest range weapon is Missile Pod, and while they can do significant damage to GEQs, they’re less powerful to MEQs. When they’re able to be insta-killed by Strength 8+ weapons, you can just launch Missiles and Lascannons (or others if fit) to kill them in the first place.
Since Crisis suits are the main unit of a Tau unit, they’re not to be left alone and should be killed if able to.
Stealthsuits: As the “lone wolves” of Tau armies, they’re lot more expensive than tooled-up Crisis suits while they’re much shorter-ranged in their firepower and their weapons’ raw power are lesser than Crisis suits. Yet, their Stealth Generators make them quite hard to be hit (though 2D6x3” range isn’t really that hard), and their ability to pack 2 Fusion Blasters are somehow a bonus to some people, and as always, their Jet Packs make them as annoying as ever. What’s more, if the points are available to a player (or if he chooses to), they can mount a T-Array to make themselves even more dangerous. They cost a lot than Crisis suits but they’re generally worthwhile for their costs since, even when facing MEQs, their great number of shots mean they can still hurt some people and even the big ones. (No joke, once I used 2 full Stealthsuits team each with 4 Fusions and a 8-men Fire Warrior squad to kill a Tyrant in one round of shooting)
Yet, I don’t generally recommend to over-relying upon them since, when comparing with Crisis suits, they’re much more vulnerable to enemy attacks especially when they infiltrate. With the crappy close combat skills that Tau own, only lucky hits will cause damage towards enemies when they’re charged, so this effectively speaks that the best way to take out a Stealthsuit squad is to use chargers. Frag Grenades are not really needed since almost all Tau units can seldom do damage in CC.
If you decide to shoot them, then just use the squad that’s closest to them and shorten the ranges with them if possible since, if you’re firing at long range, due to the Night Fighting check you’ll probably miss them, but if your firing squad’s range is close enough, then you can still see them in most cases. And with their non-improved Toughness, even Bolter shots or Lasguns can still do loads of damage if hit.
Another is to use Direct Fire of Ordnances. Notice that it’s Direct Fire, not Indirect one, since if you’re direct firing usually you’ll just roll D6” for scattering, and even with Stealth Generator’s special rule it’s scattering range will just vary from 2” to 12” with less variations than rolling 2 dice. Even they have 3+ saves but hell, there’re just lots of AP3 pies out there.
If you find the proper way to deal with them then they’re not difficult at all.
Troops: Without the body a mind can’t work effectively.
Fire Warriors: They’re just about one of the best troops in 40K universe when they’re talking about their basic weaponry. They have the longest range among basic weapons of each race in 40K universe, they shoot as good as Guardsmen do (at least), and they’re cheap for what they can do and their protections available. Some people may not think they’re threats since they’re just normal troopers, only to discover that their power to wound MEQs on 3+ can be hurting to those small-number MEQ squads. Even though you may find that people won’t use them too much, they’re still the core of offense (when in Devilfish) and defense (as a fire base). A pain in the rear end eh?
But sadly, they’re also among the most easily-killed unit in a Tau army if they’re footslogging, in particular due to their vulnerability of almost all kinds of firepower. Usually long-range AP4 firepower can do the trick like Heavy Bolters, or if you can stay out of their rapid-firing range (12”+) will just be enough (only a few shots can hit your units since their BS is really not for long-range attrition firefights). A Barrage Pie will, of course, work upon them.
If you want to charge them, then you have to bear 2 things in mind: If you’re fast chargers (with Jump Pack/Calvary/Bikes or other things similar) then you should position your chargers well so that they can go into combat in a single round without being shot to death by their Rapid-Firing rain of death since, in most cases, fast chargers are usually low in number. Or if your chargers are footsloggers/have an average Armour Save of 5+ or worse, you should pack lots of those guys when they travel across the table, as not only you’ll need to face Pulse Rifles, you will also face serious firepower from others. And even you can get into the charging range, the rapid-firing Pulse Rifle rounds are no joke to fragile units. Of course, if your footslogging CC units have saves better than 3+ then it usually won’t be too much a problem, but still you better find a way to get into their line by minimum casualties.
Fire Warriors are really easy to kill if you have a proper method, but if you’re talking about Devilfish-borne guys, that’ll be another case to be discussed later.
Kroot Carnivores: They’re also cheap, can infiltrate, pack in numbers with their low cost, fight decently in CC and decent shooters as well, and they can now Sweeping Advance unlike in older versions. Kroot are usually used as speed bumps for a Tau army when enemies are charging up, or they can infiltrate ahead and tie up enemy long-range firers for some turns. They’re especially dangerous in jungle terrains since they can even stop lethal shots with a fair chance of success within there, and they can move at full speed when in jungles/forests. If needed, their less-powerful yet troublesome Kroot Rifles can also do some damage in shooting, making them a good multi-role unit.
They’re a bit more difficult to kill than Fire Warriors, but still it can be easy. With their crappy Leadership value just land on a Pie attack upon them, and even with their improved Cover Save in jungle terrains, there should be enough casualties to force a Morale check.
And don’t forget they have no Armour Saves, while with the 6+ Armour Saves provided by Shapers are a bit useless, so feel free to put on anti-personnel firepower upon them.
Also, the myth of they’re good in CC is that they’re just good when comparing with Tau’s combat abilities, so if you can charge them first you can still gain an upper hand to get through them (they have no Power Weapons and they just fight as well as a Marine and that’s all), provided that you’re able to take them down without too much trouble (a Monstrous Creature, for example).
Kroot aren’t really that hard, it’s just hard if they’re being used right by Tau players.
Devilfish Transport: It’s probably one of the best transports out there besides Wave Serpents. Well-armoured, a Skimmer, and they can carry a whole squad of Fire Warriors for that Fish of Fury attack. Not to mention Decoys are common on these things, making them harder being destroyed by moving. Some people may want to use them as a fire platform but that’s not the main focus here. The thing is that: How to take it down?
As a Skimmer, it’s quite unwise to charge at it unless you have lots of attacks AND charging at its side/rear with some proper weapons (such as Power Fists) to take it down (even Flying Tyrants charging at its front can still fail to penetrate). Things like Meltabombs can rarely hit it so don’t even bother with that, just stick with your CC attacks if you’re able to hurt it even the chance itself looks grim (such as 6s to glance).
The most direct way to kill this is to use anti-tank weapon that you have, less troublesome, more effective. But in a Mechanized list, you’ll always put Hammerheads at priority over these fishes.
And most players are feared about the Fish of Fury attack upon your troops. I understand that, since they can shoot you while you need to pass Target Priority tests to shoot them. If you want to deal with this threat, put some mobile anti-personnel units around and, after they disembark the fish, shoot/charge them to hell until they’re dead.
Fast Attack: Stop being flanked is a way for counter-offensive.
Gun Drones: People may usually overlook them, and have good reason to. The have small squad size, crappy BS, and as weak as a Fire Warrior. But in fact, they’re among the most useful guys in Tau army, since they can Deep Strike, can pin enemies, have Jet Pack, and most importantly they’re cheap. A well-placed Deep Strike with them can maim tanks’ back armour with their decent BS (Twin-linked BS2 is a bit better than BS3), and just like Battlesuits they’re troublesome to deal with since they have Jet Packs. They can also bear some meatshield role like Kroot, with better Initiative and Armour saves but smaller number and combat capabilities.
As scary as they may seem, they’re just as easy as Fire Warriors in dealing with them. Basically, depending on how they’re being used, you have to pick different methods to deal with them. If they’re deployed in the enemies’ line then you have to use methods to deal with Crisis suits: Charge them (which is not too recommended since you can kill other big targets first), or any Barrage weapons can do. If they’re Deep Striking then you can just shoot them to hell. Easy.
Pathfinders: They mark enemies for Tau units. They have a Devilfish. However they can also bring along their Rail Rifles and go nuts with normal MEQ units. They cost a bit more than Fire Warriors for the reason that they can pin enemies using their Carbines even after disembark, making them a good harassing unit.
But they’re just as easy to be dealt as normal Fire Warriors. The fact is even more assured that their main weapons (Rail Rifles, Markerlights) are Heavy Weapons, of which they’ll need a round to stick in place after they disembark from a moved Fish, so you can kill them with your pleasure. Not much to say here, since the methods are quite the same as Fire Warriors.
Piranhas: These fast guys pack some punch. While fragile, they’re Fast Skimmers which can replace their Burst Cannon with a Fusion Blaster by a negligible cost, making them very dangerous to slow vehicles. Not to mention they’re cheap after upgrades (With Decoy and T-Array on board they’re still cheaper than a Tornado), and they can come in big squadrons, while they can fire with/release the Gun Drones at will, so even against infantry these guys can still do some damage and potentially can pin others.
They’re not very tough, however, thanks to their Open-topped nature, and weapons with Strength 5+ will still have a fair chance to damage them. While your big guns should focus on others else, you can just pour small arms fire upon them so that they still have a fair chance to take them down. You may also try to charge them as they’re pretty fragile and can be destroyed easily (unlike Devilfish or others, normal Marines can also do damage if tooled-up).
Vespid Stingwings: They’re fast and carry a gun that’s short-ranged but powerful to tear MEQs apart. And thanks to their Skilled Flyer rule they can just flying around in cover to protect them, making them quite dangerous even though they’re even more fragile than Kroot (as their point costs are much more than Kroot, they’re expected to be in smaller squads) since they can move through terrain in a fast speed.
But when talking about Vespids, they’re probably more easily be killed than Kroot or Fire Warriors since Kroot come in large numbers, and Fire Warriors come with 4+ Armour Save, but Vespids don’t have large numbers nor a respectable Armour Save despite their higher Toughness. A hail of AP5 (which is common in most armies) fire will surely melt them in a single round, just like any AP5+ Pie attacks will do. But since they’re really fast, charging them with normal units aren’t really possible unless you also have flying units/Calvary. Anyway, Vespids will usually die after an attack run since, no matter their targets is eliminated or not, they can be dispatched fairly easy. If you see these guys around and you’re playing MEQs, you can just kill them first when you see them, using any weapons that work with Fire Warriors, and your troopers’ basic weapons.
Heavy Support: Loss of big guns means they can’t retaliate.
Broadside Battlesuits: Even though they’re nerfed when comparing with v3, they’re still one of the good choices in Tau’s Heavy Support. With up to 3 members per team, each mounting a crazy array of weapons, and now with the improved Shield Drone rules and the ability of mounting a T-Array and Advanced Stabilization System, They’re still a major threat to anyone coming close, with the ability to insta-kill all but the hardest units, and they can hide from enemies while firing their Smart Missiles to inflict casualties, AND they can still fire their weapons on the move with ASS mounted.
But when comparing with Hammerheads, they’re still fairly easy to beat as, even with the ASS mounted, they’re still highly immobile. However, even though you want to shoot them as they’re somehow easy targets, that won’t be easy and in most times, thanks to their 2+ Armour Save and probably some Shield Drones hanging around, it won’t be easy task. The best bet is to use high Strength, low AP (if possible) Pie attacks to force saves upon all of them and wear them down, but never put too much efforts upon them since, if you weapons’ Strength/AP isn’t good enough to beat 2+/4+ Saves, you’re probably wasting shots.
Charging them seems to be a better bet, but some players may use the Shield Drones as screening before their Broadsides and force you to attack them first, and with their 2+/4+ saves, the only effective ones who can take up sure kills are those with tons of attacks and/or ignoring Armour Saves, and you have to calculate the correct range of charging so that you can take on the Broadsides directly as well as avoiding those pesky Drones.
Sniper Drones team: With their Stealth Generators they’re also causing trouble like Stealthsuits do, while their Rail Rifles AND a Networked Markerlight can tear all but 2+ saves infantry apart at ease when pinning them as well. Not to mention the Markerlight can be used in alternative ways to aid other units of the army. And unlike Stealthsuits, they can stay out of enemies and making the Night Fighting check a real pain (if the distance is at full 36” range, you MUST roll 12 in order to spot them but at that range they can still fire at you).
But since they’re really low in body (4 per team), you can just charge them like other else, as their CC resistance is even worse than Stealthsuits. But be warned, since they have Pinning ability, your charging units are better stick with High Leadership (Fearless ones are the best) and/or fast chargers (Calvary are the best as they can stick in cover safely before strike) since even one team of these can lead to real mess to your chargers if not careful. Barrages can also work in the same manner when facing Stealthsuits.
Hammerhead Gunship: Ah, the most feared weapon in Tau arsenal. Fast, well armed and armoured, packing with useful upgrades and it’s a Skimmer, the Hammerhead is no doubt one of the strongest, if not the best, tank available in the 40K universe. While Ion Cannons and other weapons are useful against softer targets like MEQs and vehicle squadrons, the Railguns are the real nightmare of all of the people. Not only has it kept Broadsides’ AP ability, it also have Big Pie attacks that can even bring MEQs to the ground due to their high Strength, while it’s lethal to GEQs, not to mention those Secondary weapons they may have. The most feared combo of Multi-tracker + Decoy Launcher makes this thing can always fire the weapons, while it’s impervious to all but a 6 on Glancing hit table.
As a Number One target in any Tau army you’ll face, you’ll want to pour every big gun available upon them, forcing them to land on their knees. But since I’m a Tau player myself and, in any games more than 750pts, I’ll pack a twin of Hammerheads, I’ll tell you not to do that much. Since the Hammerheads’ armour is still a tough one, so unless you pack enough Anti-armour weapons (and still it’s unwise to do so even you do), you won’t want to pour all shots upon a single vehicle. Instead, you better split your AT firepower evenly upon all those Hammerheads since every single of them are threats, so that all of them have a fair chance of being destroyed.
Charging them are just as difficult like Devilfish do, but make sure they’re able to withstand rounds of shooting against Hammerheads’ immense firepower as vehicles aren’t supposed to be lock in combat, and if they fail to destroy it in one round they may face the danger of being annihilated, making the charges against it even more dangerous and difficult. So if you want to charge it, make sure those guys are either powerful/skillful enough to destroy one in a single round, or they’re very tough that they can endure rounds of shooting before bringing one down.
Sky Ray: The last Tau vehicle and it’s pretty much the same like Hammerheads except it’s a supporting vehicle rather a main battle one. Its 6 Seekers aren’t that powerful to fulfill all roles like Railguns does, but its 2 Network Markerlight is what people will treasure greatly since they’re really helpful to other units. It still have the armour like Hammerheads do and most options available to Hammerheads, so it’s still a hard nut to crack in nature.
Basically the methods are just like Hammerheads, but you can put it in latter priority and, since its Markerlights have only a decent but not long range, they can attract more firepower than a Railhead firing from 50”+.
All units’ counters. Done.
As all types of Tau armies are formed by those units, you should be able to identify what to eliminate when you face them: Kill Hammerheads if there’s one, slaughter Devilfish if they’re loaded, and stop Crisis suits if you find they block your way. The combinations are endless, but you should be able to identify what’s your Number One target.
Top 5 Priority targets’ numbering for a generally well-balanced army
1. Hammerheads. Ditto, they’re those who pack really nasty guns to your army, no matter what they’re bring on their main weapon turret.
2. Crisis Battlesuits. Generally speaking they’re pretty much like all-purpose unit, especially when in Fireknife. Most unit types can be stopped by Crisis Battlesuits’ firepower, so watch out. (They can kill more than Hammerheads since you can have loads of them, and even 5 suits with BS4+ are still lethal)
3. Broadside Battlesuits. Once those Hammerheads are gone Broadsides, if any are present, are the major bulwark to your lone charging unit/vehicles.
4. Loaded Devilfish. This seems ridiculous, but both units they can carry (Fire Warriors/Pathfinders) can pose a serious threat since, when the former one means Fish of Fury which can provide at most 24 Pulse Rifle shots per round, while the Pathfinders can pin and later, use their Markerlights which those effects can hurt.
5. Stealthsuits. They’re decently fast, have lots of guns, and you probably can’t catch them if the controller is a good one.
So as a summary:
1. Fast/Hard/Horde chargers are more necessary than those have raw power individually.
2. Artillery/Barrages can take out most Tau units by a Pie, so bring some along with you.
3. Avoid vehicles unless necessary.
4. Eliminate your Number One threats to your army (your decisions, but mostly Hammerheads) as a priority. Don’t be disturbed by temporal grim situation created by Tau and go after some unimportant targets.
5. Tau is still small in numbers in most cases (but they’re not hard to withstand damages) due to their point cost (even worse for Mechanized Tau army), so losing a unit or 2 will dramatically decrease their power.
That’s all about killing Tau. As only a decent Tau general I’m quite unsure if I suit to write this (especially when it’s in a hurry), but as a general from other factions (Marines/Chaos/etc) I feel that I need to tell others about this, as well as a notifier to my Tau army, and to myself.
FOR THE GREATER GOOD, DESTROY THEIR SO-CALLED GREATER GOOD!
Wish you good hunting when against Tau.
This is a guide I intend to finish before my horrible exam come in March, so it seems coming in a hurry and not too well-forged than those before this. Despite the flaws it seems to be a good reference to others.
Any comments you'll like to add after reading this?