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I figure this would be the best place to ask. I'm relatively new to the hobby, and loved the Tau from the moment I saw them. The problem I'm having, though, is that more than half of my local game store uses Space marines of various chapters (one starts EVERYTHING in Drop Pods and runs Vulkan, losing Fire Warriors to napalm is ironic).
Tau have no truly effective anti-MEQ gun, since in order to do anything I either have to pour ridiculous amounts of firepower into them (normal wound rate is about 10% from my troops) or use equally ridiculously overpowered guns (Plasma, Fusion, Ion Cannons/Railguns). I can only take these weapons on tanks or expensive suits (though I have switched my main army list to include more Fusion and Plasma shots), and especially in Fusion's case they have a shorter range than my beloved missile pods. My battlesuits are easier to kill than Terminators, unfortunately, so leaving them at short range is not really an option.
So, then, here's the question. How do I give these guys a good fight, especially in smaller skirmish games?
I fight for the Greater Good. Too bad for you it's MY Greater Good.
Snow Forces of T'olku W/L/D : 3-4-2... I like to think I'm learning, though.
You don't need to go nuts on plasma (though it helps), just force enough saves. FWs have a 1/9 chance of killing a marine with a Pulse Rifle, so that's a lot of shots.
FWs in fishes, Kroot for counter assault, Fireknife suits (plasma, missile, multi-tracker), and Railheads should have a good time. Fly around, unload on isolated units, mount up and do it again. Avoid assault at all costs, throwing kroot into the fray if necessary.
Against a DP list, you have the numerical advantage to start, so punish him for it. Focus all of your force on his few units and wipe them out before their friends come in. If you want to be mean, surround your army with kroot to keep his Pods from getting too close to your FW. Start mounted so he can't burninate you right off the bat, and punish his lack of mobility by evading and striking where you can win. Decimate his troops and go for objectives and you should be ok.
Check out ==My== blog: www.bnhblog.blogspot.com
==Me=='s advice is spot on. While the Tau might be low on easily attainable low AP weapons, you shouldn't be relying on them so much as cover saves make the high cost of the weapon a bit moot. What you'll want to focus on is volume of fire. Make the man roll enough dice and things will die. Most armies in general now are aiming less for low AP and more for more shots. Take for example Imperial Guard. Back in fourth, every squad spammed plasma like it was hot! (Which it was). Now Grenade Launchers are becoming preferable thanks to templates and cover saves, which negate most of the reason for taking plasma in the first place.
In my opinion though, against a drop pod army the nastiest thing you can do is not be on the field at all. By keeping all your lads in reserves, preferably mounted on Devilfish and going first, you can ruin his day. Half of his force has to drop down on turn one, with no where to go he's probably going to land near objectives or near your table edge. That's fine, as the following turn your troops begin to arrive from reserves and get a chance to put the hurt on awkwardly positioned drop pods
If you don't want to do that, position your troops as close to the board edge as possible, as drop pods don't get inertial guidence when flying off the board. Simultaneously, don't pack troops so close, in fear of that flamer. If you can, keep them mounted in Devilfish, it's better to have the tank blown up and have a decent chance to jump out than have the entire squad burn to death and leave an empty devilfish. At best, keep them out of LOS in general. You can't kill what you can't see, unless you're Guard.
Drop pods are only fast when they arrive, for the rest of the game the drop troops must move at their measly 6". Use them Devilfish and Hammerheads. Dance circles around them.
As for your Kroot, infiltration can be mighty handy. They'll force your opponent to dedicate already stretched thin and somewhat randomly arriving troops to fight on multiple fronts.
Pathfinders can enhance the effectiveness of your entire army dramatically with markerlights, so use 'em.
Overall, play to your strengths: High mobility and high strength high volume shots. Use that mobility to deny shots to your relatively fragile Tau and simultaneously concentrate your fire. Tau worked on a combined arms principle.