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So, I've been wanting to start a fleet of my own now for quite some time(especially when I realized that WFB and 40k are mostly about army composition). The idea has been at the back of my mind until I found out that BfG is lighter on the wallet and more focused on tactics.
So here I am wondering which fleet to have as my main one. I am pretty sure I want to play with a Tau fleet because I really like their looks more than any other army (except maybe necrons, but that's a different story). However, I have no experience and am unsure if their tactics suite me. I also wish to have an imperial or SM fleet so it will be more easy for me to get my 40k and WFB friends into it. So I have a few questions that I hope you can answer. Some of them may not make sense unless I explain that I wish to do one big order to save on shipping (it's free if over $100). I know it won't be my last order, but I don't want to regret getting a bunch of ships I won't use or not having enough to have a well rounded fleet.
1. What is a general description of tau fleet tactics? Are they a stand back and shoot army or are they more aggressive due to their numbers? (I have had much difficulty finding any information on this subject).
2. How should I go about collecting a 1000-1500 pt tau fleet? (I.e. should I go for more capital ships or lots of mid sized ships? Are Dhows preferable to Orcas?
3. Since there are so many possibilities for an IN, what should a good beginner fleet look like around 1000 pts? (Mostly for friends so I have people to play. They won't put money into a game they've never played.)
4. How long do 1000-1500 pt games last? (Generally. I know different scenarios last different lengths of time.)
5. Why is there such a small following for this game? It seems to me like the most intellectually challenging game out of all the GW games I've played.
6. What do other tau commanders use for Manta Missile destroyers and Barricudas. I didn't see any models for them at the online store (which is a big bummer: they could look so cool!)
I know the army questions seem pointless since there are examples of army lists in the forums, but since I'm totally new to this I was unable to tell if they were geared towards specific types of play or enemies or if they were good all around fleets. I'm looking for general beginning fleets that I could use in most situations. I would like to say I'm really smart and can figure it out on my own, but I'm not willing to spend the money based upon my nonexistant experience.
So I am currently planning my tau purchases. Right now I'm thinking of buying 2 explorers, 2 heros, 6 defenders, and 8 orcas. I'm wondering if these models can be tailored to fit most situations. Any advice/suggestions to improve it?
First off, just to let you know, I'm not a Tau player, nor are any of my friends, and I haven't faced Tau fleets on more than a few occasions. Most of my experience with the Tau comes from a few times that I faced a Commerce Protection Fleet from FW (those models are far more awesomely looking than GW ones, btw.. And possibly even cheaper. You might wanna look into them instead of the GW Tau fleet), but I'll give it a shot, seeing as I do have quite a bit of experience with the other fleets in BFG.
The biggest weakness of the Tau fleet is the fact that their weapons are only really effective in their ships' front arc. Tau are unique in the fact that their broadsides can not only fire to either port or starboard, but also directly ahead. While this means that you can focuss all your ships firepower, it also means that the only way to do that is to have your prow facing the enemy... And that's something you'd rather not do, because moving towards your opponent is something you really don't want to do.
Thanks to superior ordnance (torpedoes and attack craft) and a resonable number of 45cm guns combined with tracking systems, a Tau fleet can hold its own at ranges between 30-45cm, but you really start to suffer when you get closer. At close ranges, Tau ships are really undergunned, and if the enemy can move out of your front arcs and force you into a broadside duel before you've sufficiently weakened him, you've really got a problem. Added to that, Tau ships in BFG are even worse in boarding actions than firewarriors in 40k are in close combat, so be very careful about letting enemy ships get close.. Luckily your ships are very slow, so you don't have to close quickly.... (this is a real downside too, of course)
Tau have really good ordnance (torpedoes and attack craft), while being almost immune to enemy ordnance due to high turret values, exellent fighter craft and the targeting system of the messenger. Make good use of it.
BFG is generally very well balanced.. Radically different fleets can perform equally well as long as they are properly commanded. Whether you want to have an escort heavy fleet or not is entirely up to you. In my Imperial fleet I usually aim to spend 33% of my points on escorts, though there are plenty of players who spend over 50% and even more who don't take any escorts at all. Just remember that escorts are called escorts for a reason; they should escort the cruisers that form the bulk of your fleet. Also, it's usually not a good idea to take more than one battleship, if you even take one.
I'd take Orcas, though, as they fit in better with Tau strategy. Orcas also use front arc weaponry, while Dows have only broadsides and no front arc weaponry at all.. Seeing as you want to keep your fleet from getting into a broadside battle in the first place, Dhows can't play a role until your plans go wrong.
As long as you adhere to the 3 basic things every fleet needs, almost any combination of ships can be formed into a good fleet. The 3 basics:
1) Durability – Every fleet needs to be able to absorb enemy firepower. This is quite easily done by taking a bunch of cruisers – all it means is that you shouldn't invest half your points in upgrades, or base your entire fleet around weak escorts.
2) Manouverability – You need to have at least something that can stop those fast enemy ships from getting around your back. Easily fixed by either light cruisers, escorts or attack craft.
3) Anti-ordnance – If you don't have any kind of anti-ordnance, don't even bother deploying your fleet. You don't need much, but you need to have at least some kind of protection against enemy bomber wings or torpedo waves. Anti-ordnance comes in three shapes; carriers capable of launching fighter craft, high turret values (4+) and/or carrying enough ordnance to force your opponent to use his ordnance in defence. Tau have all this aplenty on virtually all of their ships, but Imperial fleets should keep it in mind. Taking a single carrier is usually enough.
Simply put, just take the ships you like. But to make some suggestions, a Mars class battlecruiser gives you a Carrier that is also a very capable support ship due to its powerful Nova cannon and decent long range firepower. The Gothic class cruiser is a nice ship of the line, while a Dauntless light cruiser or 2 is excellent for covering your flanks. All Imperial escorts are useful, although you shouldn't have high hopes of Cobra destroyers actually damaging Tau ships due to Tau resistance to the destroyer's torpedoes (but they are useful for tying up Tau attack craft)
Generally, a BFG game lasts slightly shorter than a 40k game of equallivant size.
Lack of support from GW.. It's always been a game for the 'veterans', which is a far smaller group that spends far less money than the 12 year olds that play 40k. So GW pushed it into specialist games a few years back, and support for the game has been waning since then.. Most GW stores don't even carry specialist games anymore, so a lot of gamers hardly even know the game exists. That said, there is still a good sized community of hardcore BFG gamers out there, and we still get rule updates and new models every once in a while. Just not as often as we'd like.
They are available from Forge World here, and indeed look pretty cool. However, since they are esentially little triangles, it shouldn't be too hard to make some proxies.
Fortunately for you, BFG is pretty well balanced. Tau fleets can be considered to be a little undergunned, while Necron fleets can be a bit overpowering compared to other fleets, but balance issues within a fleet are mostly minor things such as a ship having 1 or 2 points of firepower too much or too little, or being over- or underpriced by 10 to 15 points. So go ahead, study the ships, work out some battles in your head, and then built a fleet based on what kind of fleet you'd like to play. Trust me, it's a lot more fun to play an imperfect fleet made up of ships, each with histories of their own, that relies on the skill of a commander to win the battle than to play with a fleet that is as perfect as you can possibly make it, but has no real 'feeling' to it.
Hope that helps!
I have a tau fleet of my own, but lack of time is keeping me from posting more right now.
Take my love, take my land, take me to where I cannot stand; I don't care I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me.
"The difference between gods and daemons largely depends upon where one is standing at the time."- Lorgar
Member of the Fluff Masters Clan
Wow! Those were excellent answers! Very helpful posts. I can't wait to get my hands on some models now...