This is BrianGeneral’s fifth guide on Warhammer 40000, and after Ways to Stop the Greater Good, I’ll keep talking about a specific army. This time it’ll be my most familiar stuff, Tau Empire. After much-needed fighting experiences, most of the stuff I needed to run a formal, proper guide of playing Tau will be almost complete. And providing time is abundant for now, it can be the time to launch my work: Aiming at a general tactic for all.
As always, comments are always welcome.
In Ways to Stop the Greater Good, various exploitable Tau weaknesses are being explained, making all Tau players seems hopeless against the onslaught. But before all the Tau players continue to read on, let’s recall some of the properties of Tau army:
“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.”
------From Ways to Stop the Greater Good: a Guide for fighting against Tau
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.
7. Jet Packs is an advantage for Tau and a pain in the rear end for most opponents.
Now, most players will find that “Hey, these facts are well-known already, what’re the uses to mention these stuff again?” These rules are well-known, of course. But numerous fighting in our Human history reminds us that: Most losses in battle are because the commanders ignore even the smallest of stuff during the battle. So it’s not a bad idea to recall these stuffs first before moving on to the common rules that are needed to know when using Tau. This guide should be used at the same time with Ways to Stop the Greater Good so that the units can be understood at full.
General Commandment of Tau Armies
General Commandment of Tau Armies
1. Tau is NOT the army for War of Attrition.
This rule is very important. Many Tau players think that they can act like Imperial Guard: forming a solid gunline near the board and kill off anyone that will come close. Easy game. WRONG. This is a general misconception of players that Tau can act like Guardmen. But they aren’t. Even though each of the Fire Warriors cost just like a Stormtooper, don’t forget their stats have much differences, nor Tau units can defend themselves much in Close Combat. For the similar reason, Tau units aren’t very survivable while they cost a lot. Fire Warriors’ general stats are just similar to Stormtroopers, while their mainstay units: Battlesuits, are just as tough as a Space Marine or at best, in Broadside’s case, Terminators. But generally speaking, the main problem of a Tau force is that they aren’t very survivable, YET their units cost a bundle. 1 Fireknife Crisis (Elites slot) cost about 4 Space Marines, while a Hammerhead’s cost are closely near to a 8-men Devastator squad with 4 Missile Launchers. With their high cost and their inability to really stand out against must stuff, don’t even think that Tau can win an all-out battle. Instead, it’ll bring to my next point……
2. Mechanization is your most powerful tool.
While it’ll cost a lot to get the whole army as a total mobile one, your more-agile units like Skimmer-Tanks and Jet Pack units are your best bet to keep your army’s core survive and are the major attacker/defender of your army. Put your exceptional care and attention upon your Skimmers, since they’re the most mobile forces you have in disposal, as while the Jet Pack units are a lot more mobile than footslogging infantry, they’re still undeniably slow when compared to really fast units. Thus, keep track of these powerful tools when planning moves in movement. Jet Pack units, however, are ideal for hit-and-run attacks because of their nature, they can make a move forward, shoot, and then jumps back to safety (which is called JSJ moves). Bear these in mind, and you should have little problem to decide the moves of the units, not just limited to intercept enemy units but also to attack enemy in flanks.
3. “He who defends everything, defends NOTHING!”
I really like how Shas’O R’myr speaks this phase in Taros Campaign. As mentioned, Tau isn’t an attrition force, but also not the one to be in a massed formation. Some people will place their units in a collected, tight formation and argues this move can work “to concentrate firepower upon all sections of a board”. Bullshit. Tau doesn’t have artillery to counter enemy indirect fire, and because they aren’t survivable in assaults, placing all of them in one point is equal to suicide if enemy have fast chargers (there’re plenty of them in these days). So instead of placing all units together, SPREAD OUT. But since they aren’t like Imperial Guard who can spread out their formation widely (they NEED to spread out if they’re in massed-up bodies anyway), so GW’s online tactics of “Street Gangs” during Cities of Death is the inspiration: Separate your army into groups, place them distant to another but they can support each other, forcing the enemy can only attack from the flank instead of front (when they’ll face horrible firepower from all bases).
Another point is NOT trying to save a breakthrough in your line. “WTF? I can create havoc when they come close to my approaching units……” Erm, usually those units that can make fast breakthroughs are from fast units. You want to drag the rest of your army into the threat annihilation? Usually I’ll just leave the Fire Warriors behind to make their last stand (Pulse Rifle Rapid-Fire of death) before 90% times got butchered by enemy units in CC by 1 turn. These can buy you a turn’s time to evacuate the rest of the units. DON’T even think about saving breakthroughs, LEAVE and regroup formation for another attack. Your slow units will get shredded to bits without a doubt, but as long as your *relatively faster* units are still alive, there’re still chances of victory. So remember: “He who defends everything, defends NOTHING!”
4. Keep the Wargear as few as possible.
Like any other armies like Marines, Tau units are generally more expensive than normal as base cost, while the essential equipments will make them dearer in point costs. However for Tau, except essential wargears for your army and/or that particular unit, leave the rest at home. This will allow you to field as much units as possible. “Wait, didn’t you say Tau isn’t for attrition and thus numbers will be lower than normal?” True, but it doesn’t mean numbers aren’t important. I once saw a Tau army only fielded 3 Hammerheads (they’re Ion Cannons), about 16 Fire Warriors and about 6 Crisis suits in 1.5Kpts? How can it be? For the Greater Good, a healthy amount of units can help with your army, and so “limiting wargear” is not to use worthless equipments in battle, if it doesn’t suit your army/that unit. They aren’t as all-rounded or tough as Marine-type characters, after all.
There’s one related wargear I’ll like to mention: Bonding Knives. Many people say that they’re waste of points, but I do find they’re useful in Fire Warriors, Pathfinders and Broadsides (will explain more below). Besides these, others don’t really need to take 1.
As for Marker Drones, no matter how useful are the Markerlights nowadays, stay away from them if possible since, for Jet Pack units, they’ll need to stand still in the movement phase, thus wasting their complete mobility. On infantry squads they’re horribly overpriced, and much of the works can be achieved by the handheld Markerlights by Team Leaders already.
5. Spread out!
Since Tau has no long-ranged Barrage weapons (nor ordnance) to counter enemy barrages/ordnances, Tau units are better spread out in formation, using coherency allowances at full and reduce casualties from enemy fire. This will lead to some problems such as LOS, outranged, etc. But, depending on what your opponent’s using, they won’t be too much a problem (or negligible). As Tau units are valuable, everyone counts when they stand up against the enemies.
These units are now 1+ in your army, and they will inevitably form your army’s backbone of shooting because of their higher BS than the rest of the army. Performance and point-wise, Shas’el with Targeting Array + 2 weapons of your choice + Hard-Wired Multi-tracker will be the best way to go, since they can now also achieve BS5 (which previously only Shas’O can reach). But of course it doesn’t mean Shas’O are useless in return. In fact, a Shas’O can add some fluffy feeling to the army (if you like to spend time on that, that is) and some stuff are best put on Shas’O while not reducing their performances by too much, say Positional Relay if you’re playing Deep-Strike/Reserve heavy armies (look out of the consequences though). A more common sighting will be Shas’O with Shield Generators, though it’s expensive, to a certain extent can help with your army as the Shas’O will now be able to hold on a bit in combat while the rest of the army flees. Other than these 2, the rest wargear are almost equal to useless and/or wasting points/slots.
Weapons may vary from army to army, but the most effective (though being a cookie-cutter) will still be Fireknife: Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod and (Hard-Wired) Multi-tracker. The rest of the weapons are pretty useless on Shas’O (and aren’t worth risking your expensive, invaluable Commander being shot in close range or being charged), though Cyclic Ion Blaster may, in some cases, replace Plasma Rifle. And for the love of the Ethereals, DON’T put Airburst Fragmentation Projector on Commanders because, as they’re Guess weapons, they won’t benefit from the high BS they have.
Some people may try to put the Commanders by Deep Strike. I stand strongly against this move because, as Tau are already lacking higher BS attackers, it’s unwise to drop a Commander on the field for just one target, and which he may fail to destroy. If one wants the Crisis suits to Deep Strike, leave these to other units.
Also stay out of Bodyguards and Drones. They may seem boosts firepower (in Bodyguard’s case) or protections (Drones, especially Shield Drones), but in fact this move makes the whole thing as a unit and can be shot at. 3 Strength 8+, AP3+ weapons will ruin the whole squad, so why bother? Just use the Independent Character benefits to move around.
These guys are actually useful. They’re cheap in cost, giving a good ability for all visible Tau units, and if joining a Fire Warrior squad they can be upgraded as deadlier Honour Guards. In the past they’re best used for 2 more Shield Drones for Broadside squads, and it may still work if you know what to do; however, now Fire Warriors can provide immense meat shields even against Barrage and prove deadlier in closer-range firefights thanks to their improved BS. How to use him is entirely rely on your decision, but be sure to make a plan if you take him, since he’ll take away a precious slot for another Crisis Commander.
Another fun thing one can do is to purposefully put him into the frontline, get him killed, and the rest of your army will hit most enemy units on 3+ afterwards. Seeing a Fire Warrior hitting a Marine on 3+ and proceeds to kill them is always fun to watch, but for the Greater Good, do it in later turns only since any unlucky rolls in first turns may send half of your army off-board!
Nothing much to say about him, except just don’t put too much stuff on him. 2 Shield Drones are the maximum case, and shame for his inability to carry a Pulse Pistol. Honour Blades……well, generally won’t gain his points back.
Crisis Battlesuit teams
They’re your main fighting core, believe it or not. I mean, the proper AP2+ weapons found in Tau army will just be Plasma Rifle, and where to put them best? Crisis suits. They’ll be you all-comer interceptor, and at best Fireknife setting for them are still the best one. But with the introduction of Targeting Array, now Team Leaders can advance to what I’ll call “Tarknife”, with the Multi-Tracker moved as Hard-Wired one, and use the last slot to place the Targeting Array. This provides BS4 shots from Elites, which is a good thing. Since they’re meant to do the bulk of the works, various configs can be found, and in some cases they’ll Deep Strike (like Twin-Linked Fusion Blasters or Fusion Blaster and Plasma Rifle), but remember, if you want to Deep Strike them, give them a plan and plan it well or the points will be wasted: They aren’t that cheap, after all (and I stand strongly against risking these units at charging range of anything, so basically some configs can be dismissed).
Ideal squad members will be 1 or 2. 3 will be pretty hard to hide, and if 2 are killed the last one can’t count as scoring units (in most cases). Since these units are so precious, if it’s unnecessary HIDE them as much as possible (in Assault moves), and don’t’ push them too forward to the frontline. They’re supporting units, not Marines. Drones are pretty much not so useful and expensive, but if there’re more members and a Shas’vre, the Failsave Detonator can be a fun thing to use (though don’t expect it’ll kill much since it don’t even have any AP), though in most cases the Tau will be forced to flee instead of staying.
Lone wolves. In the past Stealthsuits may rule supreme because they even half the range of spotting distance in Night Fighting, but now they aren’t. Other than that they are pretty much the same, except they can now bring in Fusion Blasters and can even take Battlesuit Support Systems. Though only mid-ranged, their massed shot of Burst Cannons are annoying as hell if you can keep a good distance and cover with the enemies, abuse that. They’re meant for anti-infantry though, so don’t expect them to blow up big guys up by themselves------their jobs are quite different to Crisis suits.
The only 2 Support System they’re worth considering will be Targeting Array and Blacksun Filter. Both are self-explanatory, but watch out of the rocketing cost if using T-Arrays. Drones may make the squad bigger and if using Gun Drones they can pack a punch of anti-personnel firepower, but the Mixed Armour rule and harder to hide will be their major problems so the practice isn’t too recommended. Avoid Markerlights AND Marker Drones, since they require your whole unit to stand still in the movement phase, thus wasting your mobility.
Taking Fusion Blasters or not, however, will lead to debates. Personally I’ll find them useful, if not for just hunting footslogging heavy infantry/Monstrous Creatures or vehicles. They can also instantly kill some characters that are too foolish not to stay in squads, but doing so will sacrifice 2 Burst Cannons so one have to be prepared.
Ideal squad number will be 4 or 6. Odd numbers will lead to faster morale/scoring issues, so don’t hesitate to pay more points for another member.
Nothing much to say with them, as they’re meant to Infiltrate if possible, just remember not to stay too close to anything when deploying them. Even they’ll strike first when being charged, they won’t do too much damage. They’re also lots more expensive than Crisis suits (if taken in numbers), so one have to consider how are their roles on the field/make them hangs around longer or one will just wasting points.
These guys are your army’s backbone. While the Crisis suits do most of the killing, these are for covering fire and/or becoming fodder units, believe it or not. They’re well-armoured, and the Pulse Rifle is one of the best basic infantry weapon in 40K, so just abuse them------Ignore the Pulse Carbines on Fire Warriors (so as Gun Drones), there’re better alternatives elsewhere.
As for the low Leadership for Tau units, a Team Leader is almost a must in these squads. If the Fire Warriors are planning to go static, and if you have the points, you can take some Markerlights but remember to take Target Lock and/or Multi-tracker on the Team Leader, though obviously it makes them more expensive.
Much of the wargears is pretty much useless (really, there aren’t too much choices for infantry), but Bonding Knife worth a mention here however: These cheap decorations can keep your Fire Warriors in battle in firefights, which are a good thing against footslogging/mid and long-range armies. Though others may ignore squad under 50% Strength, but if they care about them and attack them first, the rest of your units can take the chance and leave, which is why they’re also called as fodders.
Optimum squad number is 8 or 10 per team 6 are too few to hold the lines, but 12 isn’t the best for static fire bases as well. “What?” Fire Warriors are generally more expensive than other basic infantry, but they don’t have a good statline. So if they get charged, you lose a whole 12-men squad. 3 squads of 8 will cost 20pts more than 2 squads of 12 (all taking Team Leaders), but you get 3 squads instead of 2 while the firepower output are roughly the same. But for Devilfish-borne squads, that’s another story: They’re best running at 12-men per squad in order to provide maximum output volume once deployed.
The commonly used Fish of Fury will require you to unload a Fire Warrior squad after you move the Devilfish within 1” of enemy unit while deploying the Fire Warriors behind the Devilfish, preventing the enemies to make a charge immediately as they can’t move within 1” of any enemy unit in movement phase (including vehicles). This is actually a nice tactic against footsloggers and even some of the fast-moving infantry (as they’re forced to go another way for advancing) as the Fire Warriors shoot while the Devilfish provides shield for them from being charged AND give enemy a chance of taking Target Priority tests, but just remember don’t place them near to any Monstrous Creatures (which, many players will hope to use this heroic action to reduce their wounds as much as possible) or those with anti-tank weapons (especially Meltaguns), which means your Devilfish may get destroyed and your squad of Fire Warriors will become sitting duck!
Transport: Devilfish Troop Carrier
This guy is armoured, fast and it’s a Skimmer. It has some basic guns for support, but generally they aren’t too useful. Decoy Launchers on them will ensure maximum survivability on them, and as all other Skimmers, always move 12”. This will forfeit your chance to fire with its weapons (without a Multi-tracker) but this unit isn’t suited for combat like Razorback anyway. If you really must, just put Decoy Launcher and Multi-tracker on them, or Seeker Missiles if you have quite a lot of Markerlights. The rest of the vehicle wargears are pretty much useless (even Disruption Pods since you generally mean to bring the troops inside close to the enemy, and you won’t need to spread out anti-infantry firepower on the Devilfish anyway), and don’t waste points for that over-cost Smart Missile System.
Kroot Carnivore squad
Another type of fodder unit, but improved from the old codex as they can now Sweeping Advance (though much of the times they’ll fail to). These are cheaper, weaker, but come in a reasonable number, and they actually have some good uses. If you want to infiltrate with them, remember to place them in the woods/forests for best effects of using Fieldcraft, and optimally place them in a position that they can see others but others can’t.
Generally they’ll be your disruptor at front and counter-assault unit, giving they’re tooled and have a statline for assault already. But on the other hand they can still shoot well, and being shot from a position that you can’t shoot at is annoying as hell------At least the Kroot Rifle are similar to a Bolter.
If you intend to infiltrate them ahead and take for a charge or expect they’ll be charged, then some Kroot Hounds will be a good investment for their higher Initiative and number of attacks. Krootox are really overpriced for what they can do (their guns are just rapid-firing, longer-ranged Missile Pod) while not really adding much punches to the unit AND losing the infiltrate capability. They have good Strength for fighting in assault and 3 wounds to boot though, still unless you decide to take some more Kroot squads as line troops, these are generally to be avoided. STAY AWAY from Shapers: They look good on paper and can provide Armour Saves to the unit, but by his cost you can get 3 Kroot of tolling 6 attacks in total while he can only get 4, and that 6+ Armour Save just won’t achieve much unless it’s a Lasgun-death Imperial Guard army.
Fast Attack units
Gun Drone squadrons
These units have Jet Pack, with a mid-ranged gun that can pin, but have the similar statline as Fire Warriors, and cost a bit more. Useless? Nah, in my experiences they’re annoying to the enemy as hell. First they can Deep Strike, meaning they can get to any place of the board------if they show up, that is. Second, their Twin-Linked Pulse Carbine means they shoot a bit better than normal Fire Warriors statistically. Thirdly their Pulse Carbine can pin. Fourthly they have Jet Packs, so if they’re not dead once they’re landed they can run away and creating hit-and-run attacks.
These little discs are best suited to hunt low-Leadership enemies and pin them, and also because of their Deep Strike capability they can try to hunt enemy vehicle’s back armour! Of course, there’s nothing wrong to charge them against an enemy unit but please only do so if you think your Drones can survive for at least 1 turn of combat with those being charged enemies!
Not much to say about them since they’re pretty straightforward to use, and 4, 6 or 8 Drones per squad are just fine, though I found 4 and 6 are better.
They cost as much as a Gun Drone, have the same gun, no Jet Pack, and must buy a Devilfish as Transport. What’s the deal with them? The tricks involving them are using their Markerlights from a long distance, while the Devilfish provide much of their mobility. However because only Pathfinders on foot are benefited from Scouts rule, one can just leave their Devilfish aside as a Decoy while setting these guys up at a good firing position to use their Markerlights. Besides, the Marker Beacon ability doesn’t require the Pathfinders to be loaded in the Devilfish itself, thus freeing much of the flexibility------The Marker Beacon ability is horribly useful if you have anything comes by Deep Strike, though they may still scatter.
Rail Rifles are better left out because of their cost, and except Team Leader (and Bonding Knife if you want) the rest can be left out.
When compared with Land Speeders, Piranhas seemed outclassed. Though it has a stronger prow, it’s open-topped and its weapons are far weaker and shorter-ranged. But it won’t be long for one to find its real benefits: First, it can have up to 5 vehicles per squadron. Second, after 2 essential upgrades (Decoy Launcher and Targeting Array) and together with the Fusion Blaster upgrade for the vehicle, it suddenly becomes a fast and furious threat to enemy vehicles (if the Fusion Blaster hits, that is). Thirdly it’s still a bit cheaper than Land Speeders, and with its speed and as a Fast Skimmer they can snatch objectives by its speed in the last turns. And if one’s playing a Markerlight-heavy army, slap on 2 Seekers on each Piranhas, zoom to the back of the vehicles, light them up and watch the Seekers blow up the thing in rear. Even non-upgraded Piranhas are still decent anti-infantry vehicle, and its armoured prow means small arms won’t hurt it much while the Land Speeders can be glanced by Strength 4 weapons.
As such, Piranhas can accomplish much of the Land Speeders’ works, but since they still aren’t that cheap (especially in Tau army), it’s essential to determine what they should do in that battle and goes for it: Either fast Tank Hunter, anti-infantry, Seeker bearer or objective snatcher. Wandering light vehicles will be blown up ASAP.
They’re Jump Infantry, are Skilled Flyers (or generically called Skilled Riders), high Leadership and Initiative, and carries a gun that can melt most MEQs if it. Sounds good, isn’t it? No, they aren’t. Firstly they’re expensive as hell. Secondly they aren’t that tough to withstand a round of shooting if they can’t wipe out a MEQ squad at once, since their Armour Save is pathetically low as a Guardsmen (though they’re as tough as a Crisis suit), and especially when their guns’ range are within most Rapid Fire weapons’ (they don’t have enough shots and BS for mass destruction either). Thirdly they aren’t Jet Pack so Jump-Shoot-Jump attacks can’t be used to preserve their lives. Fourthly they don’t have high Strength and Attacks enough to act as a counter-charge unit. As such, stay away from these units if possible since their effectiveness is very little, no matter in big squads or small squads.
The only reason to take these is in a medium-sized squad (6-8 or so) with combination of Markerlights, as long as the Strain Leader is alive: Boost their BS to BS5 and fire their weapons at smaller MEQ squads, while the rest of the army does the cleanup. But doing so will need to plan your attacks precisely, and make sure the strike can kill off a single squad of MEQs at once. If the strike can ensure the annihilation of a squad then they may earn their points, but generally they aren’t worth considering.
Heavy Support units
Broadside Battlesuit teams
Even Screening in the old version is pretty gone, Broadsides are still one of the core of your anti-armour/Monstrous Creature unit. In the past, because of the lack of protection, 2 Shield Drones per Broadside seems mandatory, but with the new wargear are introduced, they can now take 2 important stuffs: Advanced Stabilization System and Targeting Array. While the latter one can provide better accuracy against enemy units, the former one provides much, though still little, mobility to these units. (One can say the ASS is designed specifically for Broadsides) But still, each team should consist of a Team Leader who can take 2 Shield Drones, maximizing the protection.
Ideal squad number will be 1 or 2 suits, both with 2 Shield Drones. A Bonding Knife for these guys can help your Broadside to stay on the field longer, and poses as a threat on the field continuously. As they’re pretty cheap if you take a 1 suit and 2 Drones team, it won’t be hard for them to earn their points back by blowing up a few vehicles or taking out wounds from enemy creatures. One can also purposefully expose them to absorb enemy fire or on the flanks to cover the center line of the board, just not to place them too near to the board edge initially------a casualty and falling back will get your points wasted.
Sniper Drone teams
Now it’ll be a unit that’s “good, but we don’t have slots to use them”.
Because of their range of weapons and Stealth Generator, they can be placed at extreme ranges and open fire, while others need a 12 on the Night Fighting check to fire back. With a Networked Markerlight the Sniper Drones can ensure hits on enemy units, while the weapon itself is good at stopping light vehicles as well.
However, because of the slots so needed for Railguns in a Tau army, these guys won’t get to see too much action, and don’t put too much points on these since they aren’t scoring units. Best will be 1 or 2 team, 3 will just be too much for a Tau army below 1.5Kpts. They’re great at putting in flanks to pump out firepower at extreme ranges, threatening enemy advances.
This guy will be your major hard-hitter. Tough as nails as a Skimmer, carrying a big gun, and lots of gimmicks to use with. As a Tau Skimmer-Tank a Multi-tracker and Decoy Launcher are must on them, while the Target Lock will be pretty optional.
Speaking of weapons, however, will lead to debates. Basically it’ll be the competition of Railgun and Ion Cannon (not too many will use IA turrets, but even so just treat them as Ion Cannon-class weapon): Ion Cannons are great at mowing down MEQ ranks, while Railguns are great against armoured units and GEQs. In most cases Railgun will take priority due to the lack of anti-armour weapon in Tau ranks, and its potential of blowing up a mob of units in one shot (they also wounds most MEQ on 2+ but now the Pie covers the whole squad) will rule out the existence of Ion Cannon, but Ion Cannons are still preferable in these situations:
1. Facing a Monolith-less Necrons army. Then you can mow down the Crons with more leisure. (Of course Railguns can still one-shot one squad)
2. When you have enough anti-armour units nearby. That means you have quite a ton of Fusion Blaster Piranhas already.
For the Secondary weapons, one will really need to know how they are going to work. Burst Cannons are for advancing Hammerheads (such as in a Mechanized army) and/or to save points, while Smart Missiles give flexibility and range (and annoying as hell). Gun Drones are equal to useless on them, so just stay away from these.
Anyway, following “1 Railgun per 500pts” rule and one won’t go wrong with that. But in most cases, in 1.5Kpts I’ll prefer 2 Railheads and a Broadside squad: Railheads provide the mobile firepower one’s needed (But for the Ethereal’s sake, put them in your line instead of rushing up to attract less anti-armour firepower), while the Broadside provides static fire support.
Sky Ray Missile Gunship
If one’s playing Apocalypse or games with Flyers, then by any means, put in a Sky Ray for its AA Mount (see IA3). But in practical game terms, Sky Rays aren’t that useful. It does have lots of Seeker Missiles, but sadly the Seeker Missiles must hit on the face of any unit from the Sky Ray, so if one’s wanting them to hunt enemy armour, probably a Piranha with 2 Seekers dash to the back armour of a tank, mark it, and fire the missiles from its rear. Hunting MEQs, on the other hand, it doesn’t have enough ammo for this long-lasting work: it can only kill 6 MEQs at most (and most players won’t be foolish enough to expose the commander into direct enemy fire, wanting to be IKed). Markerlights? We have plenty of this elsewhere.
So basically speaking, Sky Rays aren’t going to see much action in the Heavy Support slot. But if one’s using them, Multi-tracker and Decoy Launcher are also needed.
Better to say, the model is beautiful, but the statlines and benefits are pretty much make him the worst of all 40K Characters up to date. I mean, who’s going to give a f*** with that re-rollable Cover Save when they’re facing assaults or Template Weapons? Stubborn for all visible units is useful, but if it’s just for Morale issues a standard Ethereal is enough (when upgraded, Tau Morale are reaching the standard of most armies). And that Furious Charge means little since their boosted Initiative is still lower than 90% of 40K units, while the Crisis suits are too valuable to make a charge. So in conclusion: As an Ethereal, they doesn’t justify its cost (he and his men cost about 4 pure Ethereals already).
Some twisted rules with the old codex. Dawn Blade and stats remain as the same, no more stat boosts, limitations of the army are nearly the same. But when using Farsight 2 benefits are really making him worthwhile: The issue over Crisis suits of a huge Bodyguard and 1+ unit in the army will easily form up the core of your army, and free Bonding Knife for all accessible units? What’s not to love. One should remember to take another Commander though.
His usage will be pretty straightforward: act as a counter-charge unit of your army while other units do the killing. Because of the loss of Broadsides and Hammerheads in quantity one will depend on larger Piranha squads and/or Deep Striking Crisis suits with Fusion Blasters to kill off armour.
With her weapon rollout one should know what the usage of her is: to blast armour or slow Monstrous Creatures at close range. Unfortunately, taking her will take away all other Special Issue items from the army, and risking an expensive unit to go close-up and being charged by others? Hell no. She can also use Deep Strike to fire her weapons at enemy fire closely and use the Stealth Generator to avoid enemy fire, but my feeling is that it’s not worthwhile to risk a Commander’s slot to do so.
All units’ analysis. Done.
Kauyon rules better than Mont’ka. Find a hole, lure it, and break from that hole.
After many games I played with the new codex (or many player should know already), Tau are at its best when taking Kauyon path: That is, luring enemy towards the deep of the line where they should face tremendous firepower upon them. This will only work against enemy footsloggers since the fast units can eat up the lure fast or ignore them and go directly into the line. To do so I’ll recommend squads of Kroot and/or Stealthsuits, where they should infiltrate ahead (but close to your own line and within LOS of much of your army’s firepower), start the harassment rightaway. If the enemy catches the bait, pulling your units back if possible and let the enemy pursue, and start firing. One that part of the enemy army is gone, take advantage of that hole and start havoc.
This may not work against static armies like Imperial Guard or other Tau, in that case push your mechanized units (especially Defilfish-borne Fire Warriors) forward cautiously, using support fire from behind like Hammerheads and Crisis suits, and start to make a breakthrough ON A FLANK. That’s important, since Tau aren’t too durable if they go on a direct assault, but if start to press on from one, or both flanks, the enemy lines will enetually fall (they’re simply outranged or unable to hold both sides at the same time). This is specifically important in missions like Recon.
In a word, it can just be concluded as: “Find a flaw in enemy line and make use of it”. If you have some Fish-borne Fire Warriors, don’t hesitate to use them as breakthrough units, just to remember to hide the armoured units well.
Keep a distance!
Tau are 90% being butchered in close quarter, and the only method to avoid being butchered is to keep a distance with the foes. Tau only has Dedicated Transports and not all-purpose transports, but still remembers to keep your core units (Skimemrs, Jet Pack units, etc) always on the move, by guessing how the enemies are going to move, and avoid those points when moving. Minimize the chance of enemy coming up close to your army! A picture posted sometimes ago in the forums has its captions called: “Tau: Yeah, we suck in close combat. It’s a shame you’ll never get there.” That’s the spirit of this. Even though one’s using Kauyon to pull enemy towards your line, or using Mont’ka to move forward, distance is still the key: Avoid enemy making direct charges against your units.
Determine the target of enemy army, and remove them.
For this part one can refer to another work of mine: Menace on Slaughterfields
. Though, I still find a hard time against enemy fast units (especially that cursed, overpowered Blood Angels filled with all Jump Pack units, that’s pure madness for a Tua player), the targets aren’t unbeatable. Practice and invent ways to deal with these, and one shall eventually finds ways of success.
But in short, facing a few types of armies they’re worth mentioning:
Deep-Strike death armies:
Example are Crons with Monolith and/or Veil, Deathwing, Drop-Pod heavy army, etc. For Monoliths/Drop Pods one won’t have much to do because they won’t fall dead when land on enemy units, but for the rest, just staying a bit closer (but not too close for any possible Templates/Ordnances) and if the enemy are going to land in between, take the advantage of both fire bases to shred them up. A tighter formation will also increase the chance of being dropped-to-death cases if they scatter.
Many of the armies can footslog. In that case, don’t move your firing lines too casually, instead hold the line tight and keep firing, but be prepared to relocate once they’re too close.
If they’re in transports, then by any means blow up their transports, leaving the rest of the army footslogging. But if they’re mainly Jump Pack/Bike/Jet Bike armies, then one won’t have much to do with them, just to kill off as much enemy as possible before going for relocation. In this progress your Hammerheads will be very important, either as decoy, covering fire or breakthrough.
Static armies with Barrages:
Specifically Imperial Guard. Without any type of long-ranged Barrages Tau will certainly lose if they can’t kill off those Barrage units. Taking advantage of the speed and durability of Hammerheads/Piranhas, or using scouting-ahead Stealthsuits to seek and destroy these artillery pieces. Once these are gone, feel free to fight off a direct firefight.
Well, basically these are all of them. Tau isn’t that easy to play with as they may seem, yet there’re much ways to play with them. This guide isn’t going to be the commandments of playing, but the innovation for others to use their army. It’s not going to suggest a cookie-cutter list, but trying to make the armies optimum to play while having varieties. So in the end let’s shout: FOR THE GREATER GOOD!
Wish you good hunting.
Well, finally finished. For long I had been wanted to write a proper Tau Tactica, and now it’s done. By no means will it be the best, but probably the collection of my experiences and knowledge. Hope this thing will help all Tau players around, together with 2 of my previous guides. As always, comments are always welcome.