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I forsee going up against a tau player (another LO guy on here actually).
It might be his tau, or maybe his LaTD or perhaps even a blood angels list. But the tau concern me first of all over them because of my marines...
My marines primarilly have a focus on close range rapid fire support.
I don't have a complete list to show but...
Generally the force at 1500 consists of:
1 jump chaplain with assault team (10 man)
1 gropos librarian with command squad (6 man squad, apoth)
2 tactical squads, power fists, 2 plasma guns.
Infiltraiting Missile Launcher Devestator (usually depends on how many points I've left)
2 vindicators w/POTMS
1 predator annihilator hvy bltr sponsons.
Plus various other extras and/or omissions. Traits (Cleanse&Purify (2xplasma), Trust in your wargear (infiltrating devs), Eye to Eye (0-1 choice on non-jump infantry fast attack) and Death before dishonor (extra turn)) and fluff constrain me from feeding in too many land speeders.
Now, my question is...how does one prevent tau dancing merrilly around you when you've got primary mid-range weaponry. Keeping in mind my force tends to be a slow bunch of gropos.
Strictly speaking, I'm looking more for 'How to use' advice, rather then 'get a 6 man lascannon squad' advice.
Hmm, that is hard. Tau are a pain in the clacker because they only have one real tactic (everything else is a variation or interpretation of it) and that is to jump out from behind a piece of terrain, shoot and then jump back so you can't target them.
Incidently our local tau player has stopped playing with them recently - we think it has something to do with a game he played against another battlesuit tau army. Then entire game consisted of battle suits jumping out, not being able to see anything and jumping back again. Maybe now he understands why we call him lame when he plays them...
As for your quandary - without some kind of fast element to ensure that your footslogers get close enough to be useful I don't know what advice to offer.
I think your assault squad will be the key - as long as you remember you don't want to kill them with a first turn charge - do it in their turn if possible then charge again in yours....
I would consider a whirlwind however - to replace one of the vindicators - to allow you some indirect covering/pinning fire. If he's worried about the template he may move out from behind cover and allow your guns to do some damage.
Playing Salamanders myself I understand your concerns when facing off against Tau. Generally I have found that focussing your effort on a single flank can be very effective. If you bring rhinos form them up to make the 'rolling wall' because the Tau railrifles will be the cause of instant frustration when they glance them to death. Seriously, do not put your marines in the rhinos, but don't be afraid to take them, they make excellent cover to advance behind denying LOS to a big chunk of the enemy forces from long range. Teleporting termies with assault cannons or heavy flamers could prove useful since both are reasonably short ranged and solve your immediate delivery problem. A couple cheap (smallish) assault squads just to tie up their front lines and block LOS can be a big help, even if they become sacrificial in the process.
Games Workshop is the Wal-Mart of hobby products, except for the low prices. The lack of respect and profit mongering is there in spades.
rapid fire requires you to be within 12", and since the tau aren't going to move right next to your troops FOR you, that means YOU will have to hoof it to their lines to accomplish that, while under fire. And once you get there, his fire warriors will gladly oblige the firefight with their STR 5 weapons and superiority of numbers. If he uses a lot of crisis suits (and most Tau players do) then he can freely dance around your troops, blasting away and keeping out of range. So, close range rapid fire? not against Tau.
If you have 12" range on Tau, assault. Now, if you just moved into that range feel free to shoot that turn, and assault next turn- but definately assault. Tau are absolutely, hands down terrible in close combat. They cant hold their own against anything. They cant even hold their own against grots. I think in a fistfight between a fire warrior and an inanimate object with rubber padding and no sharp edges, the inanimate object would win. So do yourself a favor, after all the effort you go through to get next to his lines and the casualties suffered to do so, dont oblige him with a firefight. Tau love firefights. They love them because they win at them. So assault.
just remember that no matter how good your marines are at rapid-firing things to pieces with their high BS and their bolters, and how badly kitted they may be for CC, they are still far superior to Tau at CC and Tau will likely be superior at shooting. Plus, if he's short on fire warriors and you actually have the ability to shoot up his infantry, you're still in a bad position because the points he saved on Fire Warriors he probably spent on battle-suits and vehicles, which will use their mobility to deny you your rapid fire, if not your ability to shoot at all. Marines were simply not built to best Tau at shooting of any kind.
But also remember that no matter how badly you build your squads for CC, they will always be superior to Tau at CC. The Tau will flail about like children before their owner removes the models from the board in shame at their ineffectiveness.
And thirdly, remember that Tau are mobile. this is a strategy game and not an excuse to toss dice. Moving your force is vital, and you will be outclassed if your force moves at half the speed of the enemy force. You cant afford to have your troops walk across the battlefield 6" at a time and unprotected. trust me, they wont make it across. So how do you compensate for that? simple. Everything you field needs to be
-on a bike
-equipped with jump packs
-in a transport vehicle, or
-be a 12" moving vehicle in itself
Now i'm not the smartest guy here and i'm not always right, but two of my three main opponents are Tau and Eldar. I know a thing or two about mobile forces. Trust me, you dont want your opponent in charge of the battlefield.
fear the smurfs
The army list is actually built for non-seek and destroy missions, actually.
Thats, bizarrely, why its so slow.
Typically I deploy in 12 inches when given the opportunity, move up to the center of the board, and try to hold loot counters, postiion, etc, while the enemy comes and crashes into me like water on rocks (most armies at my local shop are marines, necrons and guard..three armies that dislike plasma and demolisher rounds).
The assault marines get held back as an on-table reserve force, usually hiding out in some terrain piece before blazing across to grab table-quarters or unattended loot counters at the last moment.
I have played tau once before, but it was at the 'ard boyz tournament, where I was able to fill my list to the brim with all sorts of toys and playthings, such as a 10 man 2 flamer squad, a lascannon six man team, and a terminator command squad.
Playing at more rational levels of 1500, limits me to my core however...which as I said, is slow, gropos plasma tacs.
I do imagine if we're playing an objective mission, my enemy will have to dislodge himself to come after me, but as raised here... I fear their rapid fire more then they would fear mine, and a lot of them do that damned 'leap back' thing. I also haven't figured out a solution to their prediliction of dropping a devilfish between a tac squad and them, short of the highly risky prospect of taking a demolisher to it once it disembarks troops.
As a Tau player (who's main opponent is Space Marines) and a Marine player, I have a few bits of advice.
First, as many people have said, Tau are terrible in close combat. I can't count the number of times I have had a 12 man Firewarrior squad decimated by two or three tac. marines. A bolter wielding marine is going to destroy Firewarriors, Steal Suits, and Crisis Suits in close combat every time.
Second, Tau are very mobile, but that is only useful if you give them somewhere to go. When my opponent is playing smartly, he positions his units in such a way that either doesn't allow my Suits a good place to jump, or forces them to jump somewhere that I don't really want them to be. Use your Assault Squad and tanks (i.e. things that move quickly) to force him to make tough decisions about where to put his units.
The vindicators make me nervous because they have to get really close, something that the Tau are going to try very hard to prevent. Try to make sure his big guns have something else to shoot at because losing the vindis early is going to be a big blow to you later. Try to have them focus on things like firewarriors, stealths, some crisis suits, devilfish, and other things that won't fry you.
Since your Devestator squad can infiltrate, make sure it is in a place to shoot at his tanks on the first turn. If you can take down a Hammerhead first turn you are dealing a big blow to his anti-marine firepower and it will be a tough psychological blow for him to deal with.
The assault squad is going to be your main weapon I think. You should use it to jump from unit to unit and just chew through his battle line. Make sure you keep them in cover until they're in assault range, otherwise they'll be a high priority target and draw a ton of fire.
The terimators work phenomenally well as fire magnets and can work as a free turn for you. My opponent will often deep strike a unit of terms in the middle of my army and I'm left with a hard decision. I either stick to my plan (whatever it is) and have an assault cannon and 5 powerfists behind my lines (very bad) or I can focus the better part of my army's firepower on that one unit and take it out. That option is also bad because it gives the rest of the marines a free turn to get closer to me and out maneuver me.
This turned out to be really long, hopefully something here is useful.
If I had a third pod, I was considering doing a drop with two heavy flamer dreads and a terminator command squad, the spectacular priciness of it though has me somewhat...off.
A pair of podding dreads and a podding terminator group with its nifty Fear of the Darkness might be handy, but I don't know if it'd be points well spent when I can be sending fury of the ancients rampaging across the board every turn, potentially pinning folks.
You know getting close to Tau isn't the worst thing to do it is best. I think the jump pack Chappy with the assault squad is good. Just try to hop cover to cover. And who cares if they got those missles that can go through cover only will take off one guy. Then once your withen 18" everything is in your favour.
The infiltrating Dev squad is good ideal (Remember doesn't always have to be 4 guns in squad.) If you get first turn and you get them in an area where they can see their vehicles your set to have shut off and hopefull destroy it. Even a scout squad is that would be a good idea. (Scouts would be smarter for it.)
That is all I really have to say. Oh yes frag's for the assault squad and chap.
As a pretty decent Tau player and a space marine player, I'll give you some advice.
First, if you do take dreads (which Tau eat up), make it venerable with extra armor. The points are well worth it. Seriously.
Secondly, and overlooked too often by Marine players, are bikers. These guys, when used correctly, can absolutely maul the Tau. If you give them a melta-gun on, say, an attack bike, and run them in large squads, they will do good.
What you need to do: advance them at the same pace as the rest of the army. NO turbo-boosting way out unless they will be behind cover. Invulnerable save or no, they will die if by themselves. They are good for getting around the first unit and tying up crisis suits, or denying them movement.
Remember, too, that you can't expect to find a foolhardy way to get up close to a long-range firepower and mobility based army, unless you spam lascannons and assault cannons.
Turtles For the Turtle God!
Shells For the Shell Throne!
I have to agree with some of the analysis above. Tau have only one hope, and that is that they can avoid any close combat through the whole game. If they can achieve this then they will probably be able to blow anything away in short order.
Go get them. Get across the board in the full knowledge that when you arrive your opponent will be completely doomed to watching your units roll up his line slaughtering unit after unit.
Remember that a space marine is a close combat monster. All round high stats mean that if one of your power armoured buddies can get close enough he can really put the hurt on even a crisis suit.