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How do I play Tau effectively?
This Is a question I hear often and I thought I would create a guide to explain the basics. Please note that this guide is aimed at showing someone new to Tau how to play, so there will be stuff here that seems obvious to more experienced players. So lets begin.
Tau players have to do the following things to win games:
(1) Maximise the effectiveness of their movement and shooting phases. Tau effectively have no close combat ability, even Kroot are better of utilised in other battlefield roles.
(2) Keep the enemy as far away as possible for as long as possible to maximise the amount of time Tau units can shoot at said enemy
(3) Prevent the opponent from reaching your forces (primarily to avoid close combat but also to minimise the amount of opponents weaponry that gets into firing range)
(4) Deploy effectively
The first thing to sort out is the list itself. Now I am not going to include a list here rather I am going to outline what a list should ‘always’ include. Despite what the rest of the list may include, most experienced and successful Tau players use the following things:
(a) Kroot: At the absolute bare minimum, you should have 2 units of 10 Kroot. I take two units of 10 with four Kroot hounds in each unit.
(b) Piranhas: You should have at least one unit comprising two Piranhas. Many players will take two units of two in 2000pt games, this is fine but the minimum is one unit of two Piranhas. Taking more than two squadrons (two Piranha squadrons) is not advisable in 2000pts and under because it means you will need to compromise the rest of the list unacceptably. In 5th edition 40K you simply cannot manage without Kroot and Piranha’s period.
(c) XV8 battlesuits: A minimum of 10 XV8’s should be taken in any list over 1500pts (I would aim for at least 8 in a 1500pts list). There is much dispute over what the XV8 units should be equipped with but you will need two things ‘Plasma’ and ‘Missile Pods’
(d) Anti armour: This can be comprised of Hammerheads with Railguns, XV88’s or a combination of both.
Tau list building is a bit different from other armies. With Tau you are very limited in how you can play the army, so the list needs to be built to fit these inherent limitations. Hopefully this guide will explain those limitations and will then make it obvious what needs to be included in the army list.
Ok so how do we utilise 1 to 4 above? Well let’s start with maximising fire-power. This is not as straightforward as just having more accurate weaponry. Obviously the higher the proportion of models with high BS the better it is for the army; however this has to be balanced with cost.
Accuracy always costs more, whether it is paying for targeting arrays or utilising Markerlights (ML’s) however cheaper BS3 units miss 50% of the time, so it is a balancing act.
My approach is to take more BS4/BS5 or twin linked weapons on the XV8 units and some ML support, others approach is to take more BS3 XV8’s and fewer Markerlights. Both approached are valid and I leave it to you to decide which suits your play style better. Though different each approach is built on the same premise ‘efficient focussed fire’, so what do we mean by focussed fire?
Focussing that fire-power
At its simplest level focussing fire simply means hitting a particular target with as much fire-power as it takes until it is dead or no longer a threat.
Easy enough but before you fire at a target the first thing you should always consider is what you hit a target with. You need to ensure you have the highest probability of killing the target quickly BUT you also need to consider the battlefield target situation as a whole.
Sounds obvious but it is amazing how many times I have seen players fire at a target with a unit simply because it is the closest unit or it seems a weapon is “really powerful dude”. For example hitting an AV11 Chimera with a Hammerhead because it is STR10 and AP1 (STR10 is easily going to kill a Chimera right?).
Well it would actually be better to hit it with the Missile pods from a Deathrain or Fireknife unit and use the Hammerhead to submunnition the TGH3, 5+ save infantry unit that is forced out of said transport, or even use the Railgun on that AV14 Leeman Russ that is further away.
On a more advance level, focussing fire is about making the correct tactical decision within the tactical framework of the game situation. For Tau the tactical framework is (1) to (3) above (not necessarily in that order), so any targeting decision needs to be decided on using those criteria.
Take for example a game where we are facing a Marine list with multiple Melta equipped Marine squads in Rhino’s and Assault cannon Razorbacks and the rest of the army consists of a Landraider , a couple of Land speeders and various other offensive units (say a Dreads and a Predator).
What should we be aiming to focus on here? Landraider, surely the Speeders, those Preds are dangerous?
Well actually none of the above, unless a specific unit is really threatening your army the overriding targets here are the transports. Having six units of Melta equipped Marines running into your lines early is usually a much larger threat than the Preds, Dreads or Speeders.
So we decide to hit the transports and we hit a Rhino with a unit of Fireknives and immobilise it, surely we focus more firepower until we destroy it yes? No we do not; this is another facet of focussing firepower.
Consider carefully does it make more sense to destroy the ‘immobilised’ Rhino that cannot hurt your army or try to stop another Rhino/Razorback? The correct answer is stopping another transport. As soon as you stop the advance of the vehicle go immediately to the next transport.
You should be assessing which transports provide the greatest threat and prioritise as needed. Focus fire on the most immediate threat UNTIL (and only until) you stop its movement (If you destroy it then that is a bonus), when that is achieved move to the next priority target until it is stopped (or with luck destroyed) and so on.
The same applies for non-vehicle armies; target the units that can get to your lines the fastest or most efficiently. Your overriding priority is to prevent units getting to your lines and stopping you shooting. Obviously with non-vehicle units you cannot immobilise them, so you need to figure out which units are the greatest threats and focus your firepower to hurt them to the point they lose effectiveness, “lose effectiveness” not wipe out to the last man if not needed. Many, many, many times I have seen players literally fixated on taking down that last Terminator for example, when there is no need.
The above Marine list example is an isolated example but it illustrates how you should be thinking when deciding to focus fire because too many players are blinded by ‘perceived’ threat, they see an uber unit and immediately see it as an overriding threat purely based on its cost/reputation etc.
Take a Landraider full of assault Termies for instance, bristling with Lascannons and massively armoured, it seems to be a hugely threatening presence. Well usually for the first two turns it isn’t and it can be slowed down very easily by means other than shooting (those Piranhas). You could waste a whole turns worth of shooting trying to destroy the distant (relatively) Landraider while 4 or 5 Rhinos are dumping TAC squads with Melta’s and CC nastiness right in your lines. The perceived threat of the LR/Termies over shines the actual greater threat of the Marines with Melta’s (I hate Melta’s you may have noticed)
The other Tau specific facet of focussed fire is ‘Markerlights’ (I will refer to these as ML’s). While ML’s are not weapons as such their application needs to be considered just as carefully as the other weapons.
The application of any of benefits of ML hits need to be carefully considered, where will the BS boost be best utilised? Where is the cover save reduction best used?
Most important of all is deciding WHEN to use the ML’s, many players seem to think you have to use ML’s before all the other weapons, not true.
Take my 2000pt list for instance; quite often I will use my ML’s quite late in the shooting phase after my more accurate XV8 units have done their thing. I will often use them to light up an infantry unit that has been forced from inside a transport.
My advice here is carefully analyse and consider the order of target priority and try to judge what you think the possible outcome of your shooting will be, then think about were those ML tokens will best be utilised.
Markerlights are incredibly valuable take a list that uses standard elite Fireknife units that have base BS3. Just two ML tokens will take the 50% hit rate of those BS3 suits up to 83%.
Anyone who tells you that ML’s are not needed or are overrated should be comprehensively ignored. That Toughness 6 Tervigon that is in your face will not be so much of a threat after a BS5 Fireknife unit hits it with Plasma Rifles.
Try killing an AV13 vehicle that is in cover without ML’s. Most Pathfinder units will generate 3 or 4 Tokens a turn and that means BS5 and at least a 1 point reduction to the cover save, which will make it a lot easier to deal with.
Now it seems I am saying take Markerlights, Markerlights and more Markerlights. Not necessarily so, again it is all about balance, I take two 5 man units and a Skyray and that suits me fine but just taking the two 5 man units is enough for most 1750 and above lists. You should not be compromising actual fire-power units to take more Markerlight units. Taking the two 5 man Pathfinder units is a good balance because it also allows the Fire Warrior units to utilise the PF Devilfish, so it is very cost efficient.
Firepower is nice, now for the other half of the equation
5th edition 40K has seen a marked shift towards the mechanisation of army lists. With this in mind, competitive lists should primarily be capable of dealing with Mech type lists, so what does this mean? Well you need to ensure that your Tau list is capable of delivering sufficient amounts of fire-power with the express intention of slowing down transports, tanks and units with the capability of moving into an attack position fast. These are your priority targets.
Many armies utilise transports to deliver hard-hitting units into your lines so stopping the transports buys you that all important benefit ‘time’. If a transport is popped the unit inside is reduced to walking (unless it can get onto another transport) and running. If a unit is walking it gives you more time to reduce the squad’s numbers and if they are running they are not shooting. Again I know I am stating the obvious, but it is vital to emphasise how important it is to buy your Tau this time.
Shooting transports and fast units is essential but the fact is shooting is very luck reliant and there will be many times it simply does not return the desired result. There are also times where we simply do not have enough shooting resources to deal with all the threats (for instance we may need to target the some of the opponents tanks to ensure we preserve our anti armour and this may mean some transports go untargeted). So if we cannot shoot all the transports or fast units then we need to ensure that they cannot get to our important units, how do we do this? Well we use smart deployment, notably screening, speed bumps and castling.
This brings us nicely to those Kroot and Piranha units and deployment. First, I will discuss deployment. The first thing to understand is that no matter the mission the deployment usually follows two or three templates.
The most common deployment is the tight corner deployment. The idea of this deployment is to deploy in such a manner as to restrict the approach choices the opponent can make, slow down any approach and lastly to funnel the enemy units where you want them.
Deployment is done tight in to a corner, hopefully with terrain protecting the exposed flank and frontal approaches. Dependent on the opposition the Kroot are deployed to either:
(1) Prevent outflanking units arriving by deploying in a long line tight to the unexposed flank board edge. Remember units cannot be placed within an inch of an enemy model, so they cannot arrive because they would violate the inch rule. The other Tau units (usually XV8’s, Devilfish and tanks) are usually deployed to the rear edge of the board.
(2) If outflank is not a consideration the Kroot are deployed in the frontal arc of the deployment zone to provide a buffer zone against attacking units. Note I said arc because you should be aiming to cover as much of the exposed approaches to your army as possible, so deploying in an arc covering the frontal approach and exposed flank is usually better than deploying the Kroot in long straight lines.
The Kroot should be deployed as far out as possible (dependent on mission deployment restrictions and terrain placement) when facing non-Deep strike/Drop pod armies. This is done to intercept and slow down units as quickly as possible. Dependent on terrain placement the Kroot can be deployed in stacked formation (with a line of Kroot placed behind another unit in staggered formation) or deployed to cover the exposed flank and forward table area in that arc formation I mentioned earlier.
(3) Deep strike: If you are confident, an opponent is going to deep strike into your lines the Kroot should be deployed in such a way as to minimise the available area the DS units can land. Remember a unit cannot DS unless the unit can be placed physically onto the table. So the Kroot should be deployed as widely spaced as possible (while maintaining coherence) to cut down on available areas to deploy a DS unit. This is very hard to describe because of terrain and other factors but the usual way is to have the Kroot deployed in a spaced out fashion between valuable units and terrain thus taking up the space between these units. Remember you can leave a gap of up to 2” between units members so use the spread to cover as much area as possible.
(4) If the opposing army has a mix of on-table’ and DS/DP units then dependent on how the biggest threats are deployed you can tailor the Kroot to suit. If the threat is spread throughout the different deployment options, the best way is to deploy the Kroot so they are in front of the other Tau forces but the area between the units is not large enough to allow a DS/DP unit to land between them, forcing them to deploy in front of the Kroot (see below).
K K K K K K K K K K
Area must not be big enough to allow placement of a DS unit
K K K K K K K K K K
Area must not be big enough to allow placement of a DS unit
Rest of Tau forces here
Alternatively, you can deploy one unit out front and have the other unit spread out in standard anti DS/DP formation (as I described in point 3)
The most important thing to remember is the Kroot are entirely expendable, shooting or assault with them is secondary (obviously, if they can shoot then do so).
Oh yeah, It should be noted that Kroot can infiltrate and this can be used to gain advantageous field position.
Unless you are 100 percent confident, it is tactically advantageous; try to avoid the temptation to assault with Kroot and end up being dragged out of position. If a unit is close to the Kroot you need to consider the best course of action. Many players will decide to assault the enemy unit with Kroot, reasoning that it is better to keep the enemy unit locked in combat; however, this is usually the worse course of action. Personally, I usually shoot with the Kroot and other Tau units because the damage done from 10 Rapid-fire Kroot rifles will usually be greater or as good as the damage from an assault.
With luck, the opponent is then left with a reduced unit with which to shoot and/or assault (remember that focus fire I mentioned earlier, if a unit is threatening then hit it with the Kroot and other units)
Taking Kroot hounds helps the Kroot to weather assaults due to their initiative value, hold units in assaults or chase them down (again due to their superior initiative), What taking Kroot hounds does not do is make them super assault units. It may seem that with the Kroot unit’s large number of attacks on the charge that it seems eminently sensible to initiate assaults. The problem is the Kroot are only average in CC (even with Hounds) and will lose to most specialised assault units (and these are usually the units being pushed forward).
It is better to rely on the Kroot’s shooting and let the opponent assault because this will give a minimum delay of two turns rather than a possible one turn if the Kroot lose the assault and are swept from the board.
Remember it is time we are concerned with here not heroic bravado. If you can be 110% certain you can either sweep a unit from the board with a Kroot assault, hold the enemy unit in CC or the Kroot will not be wiped out by an attacking units shooting next turn if the Kroot sweep a unit, then fine, assault. Just be very sure. If there is any doubt then do not assault and stay put.
The other line of defence is the Piranha. These should be deployed so they can be moved forward to intercept dangerous enemy units. The large frontal area of a Piranha and its frontal AV make it quite tough to shift by shooting but it is quite vulnerable to assaults.
The vulnerability to assaults means you should be aiming to move the Piranha unit a minimum of 12” so make sure you consider this when deploying them. The reason for the 12” movement is it means any model assaulting them has to roll a six to hit the Piranha, which will add greatly to its survivability.
The reason for taking two man squads is it increases the footprint of the unit and makes it a lot harder to bypass and obviously adds to the unit’s survivability (if you know to minimise the squadron cons). The Piranha is best used to prevent the movement of vehicles, things like Dreadnoughts (and other walkers) and foot infantry type units.
One very important thing to remember is the Piranha is only AV10 when assaulted (rear armour), so any model of STR4 and above can hurt them. Damage results are allocated throughout the squadron exactly as per wounds allocation to infantry so it is easy to lose a squadron even if only one member is assaulted. Lastly remember any immobilised result means the Piranha is destroyed. It is amazing how many players do not know the simplest rules when assaulting squadrons.
This may sound obvious but it is also often forgotten by players that Piranhas do not block other skimmers, jet/jump pack equipped models, Jetbikes or flying models. If you are facing a skimmer heavy army then re-think the Piranha’s role. Use them to defend your Hammerheads etc because Skimmers will close you down fast.
Yet another thing to consider is make sure you consider all lines of sight to your blockading squadron from all enemy units. Why? Because the AV value used to resolve damage for squadrons is the nearest AV targeted by the shooting unit, so if the unit can hit the side or rear armour all damage is resolved at AV10 and allocated throughout the squadron, even if some of the members are presenting their frontal AV to the shooting unit. If you overlook this then it is easy to lose or suffer bad damage to a whole squadron from a unit only equipped with STR4/5 weapons.
I usually aim to get my Piranhas blocking dangerous vehicles (like Landraiders) so I can get a chance to use their fusion blaster (always take a Fusion). Piranhas are an important part of the anti armour of a Tau list; if it is possible to combine the blockading and anti armour then this should be aimed for, remember that perceived threat problem I mentioned earlier.
So the idea is to put up a staged blockade where an opponent has to negotiate Piranha’s and then Kroot to get even remotely close to your units and gain you that valuable time to lay down your fire-power.
In the majority of games, you will usually be aiming to get first turn; however, this is by no mean guaranteed and depending on the army you are facing it can be very bad to go second.
If you are facing an army with extremely large amounts of fire-power that you know are going to be deployed on the field (I/E not held in reserve, DS or outflank) then you need to minimise the damage you will receive if they get first turn.
You can do this by holding units in reserve and by smart deployment. Unfortunately, reserve is not ideal for Tau and the only unit that really benefits from reserve is Fire Warriors.
Dependent on terrain availability you will more than likely need the Devilfish to provide cover for XV8’s, XV88’s or Hammerheads. If this is the case for a Fire Warriors Devilfish then simply deploy the Devilfish but leave the Fire Warriors in reserve.
You can put your XV8’s in reserve but this more often than not works against you. You need fire-power on the table as quickly as possible and having an XV8 unit not arrive until turn 3 or 4 is worse than the possibility you may lose them on turn one (either way they are not providing fire-power).
Piranhas are fast so they have a 24” max move and are skimmers (yeah yeah obvious I know) so they can be deployed as far back as possible (behind cover if available) to try to get out of weapons range of as many units as possible or even out of LOS.
Piranhas should always have Disruption pods as this helps to prevent them being shot anyway. If lack of cover is a problem then use the Piranha’s to provide cover for XV8/XV88 units (the Disruption pods will help protect the Piranha’s).
If the opponent has fast units of its own you will need to assess if the Piranhas are better deployed forward to try to block them rather than hiding even if they are at risk from shooting. This again is where the DP’s come in, as long as the Piranhas are more than 12” they get a 4+ cover save from shooting attacks.
If we follow the above, we will have the Tau army deployed in the corner with the most advantageous terrain. We will have the two units of Kroot deployed in the most appropriate formation to handle whatever opponent we are facing.
You should have the Piranha squadrons deployed with a direct line of movement to whatever unit they will be blocking (remember their superior movement rate and the DP’s when deploying). If you can aim to move Piranhas flat out as this gives them a 4+ cover save in the opponents shooting phase and helps their survival if assaulted.
XV8 squads should be deployed either in cover or if possible behind line of sight denying cover. If cover is not available then they should be behind Devilfish, Piranha’s and Hammerheads.
If you are using XV88’s these should be placed to maximise line of sight, if there is cover available then use it. XV88’s should always have Shield Drones so they can weather the fire that will inevitably come there way. Line of sight should be the priority; I try to get them high on buildings if possible as this offers maximum LOS benefits and perfect cover.
Hammerheads should be deployed as far back as possible in the deployment area without compromising line of sight. If cover is not available and you expect significant fire on the 1st turn put them behind the Devilfish. As per the Piranha both the Hammerhead and Devilfish should be equipped with Disruption pods.
Pathfinders are a tough unit to get right when deploying. Everyone hates Pathfinders and they will target the buggers mercilessly. This is both a good and bad thing. Good because it can pull fire away from other units, bad because it is easier for Tau to win with ML’s.
Luckily, Pathfinders ML’s have a decent range so they can be placed in cover pretty far back and this is what you should be aiming to do. Placing them in buildings with line of sight out of windows etc is ideal. At the very least they should be placed so they get a cover save from Kroot or a Piranha.
As I said earlier I take two five-man units and if possible I deploy them as far away from each other as possible. This usually ensures that at least one unit survives and has the benefit of covering a wide swathe of the field with the ML’s.
The board edge castle
Another useful formation is the board edge castling deployment. This takes the form of lining up your Tau forces to effectively cover as much of your long board edge as possible. Utilise any available cover and line up your units in the gaps between any terrain pieces.
The same blockading principle applies as to corner castling; use Kroot, Piranhas, and Devilfish to shield vulnerable units. Line up XV8’s and XV88’s (if taken) as close to the board edge as possible (again utilising cover if available).
Kroot should be lined up to provide that essential buffer zone and the Piranha’s should be deployed so they:
(a) Provide cover if the opponent gets first turn
(b) Can speed forward and block any bottlenecks/approach lanes.
Hammerheads should be deployed as far away as is humanly possible (in the corners is best, if you take two then spread them between the two corners) without restricting their line of sight. If possible, use Devilfish to provide them with cover for the first turn. The same applies to XV88 units, do not bunch them up together, spread them out so the opponent cannot neutralise them easily.
This is also a good formation to stall deep strike armies because it is easy to deploy the units to prevent DS within your lines. Deploy the Kroot in long lines just in front of the rest of the Tau forces. Make sure you do not leave enough space between the Kroot and the other Tau units for a Drop pod/Spore to be deployed, it is easy to spread the rest of your units out along the board edge to prevent any DS unit deploying on the table within your lines (make sure you utilise any terrain as well).
Obviously, this does not stop the DS units getting close to your lines BUT it does give your valuable units much-needed breathing space.
Piranhas should be deployed so they can stall any unit that does arrive close or they can zoom down field to block the non-DS units moving up to reinforce the Deep stirking units.
Next we come to the two types of missions and how we approach them.
There is a bit of contention about how Tau players should handle objectives. Well to be quite honest there are so many variables it is hard to give advice on how to handle these sorts of missions.
We have the “ignore all objectives until later in the game” faction. The idea is to focus on wiping out the opponent to avoid the need for taking/holding objectives. While this has some merit, it can fall down very easily in many different ways, just rolling crap dice for a few units shooting can throw that plan into disarray. Even going second can mean your game is a lot harder when you lose a few of your heavy hitter units to that first turn of shooting.
In my opinion (and that is all it is), you need four units of troops in any game over 1750pts, two of those HAVE to be Kroot so this leaves us with two units to contest or take objectives.
The best thing to do in objective missions is to take two 6-man Fire warrior units in Devilfish, do not (let me repeat that, DO NOT) use these two units as offensive units.
Keep the FW units in the Devilfish and keep the Devilfish behind cover or as far away from the enemy as possible. If you need the Devilfish for blocking etc keep the FW units in reserve and when they arrive either bury them in cover or embark them on any surviving DF.
The point here is to keep the Fire warriors alive so they can contest/occupy/hold objectives. The Devilfish has a maximum 12” move so be aware of this later in the game. While it is possible to move the Devilfish, disembark the Fire warrior unit and then run, it is not something you should be aiming to do last turn (run is luck reliant and the random game length of some missions can leave the Fire warriors vulnerable). It is much better to have the Devilfish in range to move to the objective with the Fire warrior unit safe inside.
Some missions mean you have to occupy and hold a ‘home’ objective and by far the best way to do this is to use a Devilfish and FW unit. Give the Devilfish disruption pods and place it within 2 inches of the objective and the objective is classed as occupied. If the points are available give the Devilfish flechettes as well. A DF with disruptions and flechettes is not easy to destroy, and it will make the opponents attempts to take the objective a lot harder.
If you need the Devilfish for blocking duties, try to make sure your home objective provides good cover and place the Fire warriors to gain maximum cover benefits (go to ground if needed because you won’t be shooting) until the Devilfish is available (as soon as it is get the Fire warriors into the Devilfish).
The overriding thing in objective missions is not to assume you will massacre an opponent. Instead go into any objective game with the intention, planning and foresight needed to meet the victory conditions associated with the objectives. Obviously, set out to beat the opponent with your firepower but ALWAYS keep the objectives in mind.
If you play the way I have described above, slowing down the opponent and focussing your fire-power while keeping your units safe you should have enough units left to move forward to contest or even take objectives. Moving forward too soon will disrupt the carefully tuned blockading tactics and you will usually end up losing units. Remember Tau work by keeping the enemy at bay so they can punish them at range, moving forward to soon to take objectives is diametrically opposed to that game plan.
Kill point missions: There are two schools of thought about kill points.
(1) Ignore them:
Many players state that concentrating on KP’s is a waste of time. Yeah remember that to next time you lose in a tournament because you ignored the secondary KP mission parameters.
(2) Aim to minimise KP’s as much as possible when building a list:
While both these viewpoints hold some water, both are intrinsically blinkered.
Despite what some ‘experts’ may tell you, if you ignore KP’s in any mission that uses them, you will inevitably come unstuck at some point (not every game but there will come the game where you get bit in the ass).
I always hear the same old chestnut “if you table your opponent then who cares about KP’s?”
Sorry but can you 100% guarantee you can table any and every opponent in a KP mission? What happens in a KP mission if you do not wipe out your opponent? Answer you total up the KP’s each of you scored and the one with the most wins, obvious I know but the point is made.
Unless you are some sort of 40K god player then you cannot EVER guarantee you will table an opponent.
Now we come to point two, which sounds eminently sensible. In normal KP missions the idea is to kill more than your opponent while avoiding losing your units so taking less units means less KP opportunities for your opponent,
Funnily enough played correctly Tau lists are good at KP denial anyway this, is how we win games by default.
However we are very limited in list builds so it is pretty much impossible to minimise Kill points.
Problems also arise ignoring KP’s when you consider tournaments. Many tournament missions combine objective based scenarios with Kill point parameters (usually secondary mission parameters).
The ways I have described to play Tau means you are forced to place some units in harms way in the game. Objectives can only be occupied by scoring units, so troops are the first thing to consider. Kroot are troops and thus scoring units.
Surely we cannot use Kroot for the usual castling/blockading role if we need them for objectives AND to make it worse we lose KP’s if they die?
Errr yes we can and do use them the usual way, it is all about priorities, yes we may lose a KP if we lose the Kroot unit but the time they buy us to utilise our offensive units is much more valuable.
Remember that advice about taking FW units in Devilfish; well here is another reason why it is so important. We need to make killing a good proportion of our scoring units as hard as possible because it also has the secondary benefit of preserving KP’s. Using FW in DF does this and using the Kroot as screens help to keep the FW/DF even safer (as well as the offensive units safe that are killing your opponents scoring units and earning you KP’s).
What about the Piranha’s; surely we do not send them down field to be sacrificed and give up KP’s? Yes we do, again the time they buy is more important than the KP they may give up.
One thing to remember is disembark the Piranhas Drones before sending them down field because they count for KP’s if they die (after being forced to disembark if the Piranha is destroyed).
The key is balance, it is pointless building an army to minimise KP’s if it compromises your ability to kill his army to earn KP’s or it decreases your ability to defend your own forces or take objectives. I personally build a list to do two things
(1) Maximise damage output
(2) Maximise the ability to exploit the castling\bubble wrap tactics
The one thing I never do is think about minimising kill points.
When playing KP missions I follow the same basic game plan. Kroot and Piranhas out front blockading, all other units kept backfield shooting. I never move forward unless vital (say a Devilfish to block a threatening unit).
Midfield is the territory of the Kroot, Piranha’s and the enemy units that I will be stalling and shooting down. Usually there is no reason for a Tau player to move forward in non-objective missions (and even then only late in the game) other than to gain better line of sight.
So yes we need to keep KP losses in mind but the way we should be playing Tau means we are already playing in the best way to alleviate the problems associated with KP missions anyway.
In essence, the archetype Tau list I described earlier is built for KP missions above anything else, simply by virtue of the Tau’s overriding need to inflict as much damage as quickly as possible whatever the mission. In fact as said before Tau can struggle in objective missions unless they destroy a substantial part of the enemy forces so the list is built to inflict damage, not take objectives.
This guide has been a basic overview of how to play Tau. I have avoided giving advice regarding facing specific armies for two reasons.
(1) The ways I have described above regarding deployment and tactics change very little whatever opponent you face. The only real things to consider are how the opponent deploys and how they move (mech/skimmers/hoard infantry on foot etc). Actual Tau deployment and tactics are pretty limited whatever opponent you face
(2) There are so many different army build variations that detailing how to handle each one would be virtually impossible, that is why we have the forum.
So I hope this has helped, please remember this guide is based on how I play and on how I have seen others play. It is not meant as a definitive guide and is not in anyway meant to say, “this is the way you MUST play Tau”. I do know though that anyone playing the way I describe above will find playing with Tau easier.
I welcome any additions to this guide and will happily add anyone else’s tactics, deployment advice etc to it if I consider it good advice because this is my guide after all.
Last edited by Rikimaru; July 21st, 2010 at 21:57.
Good stuff. Probably sticky-worthy. As a man who doesn't use kroot, markerlights or piranhas, I'm not sure I can really comment on it or add to it. ^_^
Good stuff as usual, Riki. One thing you mentioned about when to fire Markerlights has made me pause to consider my way of using them. I think that when the Tau first came out, folks were not used to thinking about MLs and were perhaps inclined to forget to use them. Ok, so maybe "folks" should read "me", but I'm sure I wasn't the only one!
This led to me always saying "Markerlights!" loudly to myself at the start of the Shooting Phase, since I had this tendency to forget them. Having read the comment you've written, plus being a far more experienced Tau player now anyway, I will be reassessing my "Markerlights!" shout to self. Thanks for this.
Oh, and yeah, guess this article deserves a bit o' rep.
"Tau Commandment #226: Participants who use Velocity Trackers in the Tau Clay Pigeon Tournament will be disqualified"
Yes, I can appreciate that the "strategic survey" is very important. I think it will boil down now to a more chess-like planning: "The Railgun will pop that Rhino, the MLs will hit the squishy contents and the BS3 Fireknives will obliterate them" sort of process.
"Tau Commandment #226: Participants who use Velocity Trackers in the Tau Clay Pigeon Tournament will be disqualified"
Great advice on deployment and using screens!
Quick questions from a beginner:
I've been finding that my pathfinder unit has been getting obliterated early on in the game before the markerlights can really start becoming effective. Would you recommend deploying a unit of kroot forward to act as a meat shield for the pathfinders? (using the infiltrate rule).
Also, when you deploy in the corner castle deployment, what is the best way to avoid having large amounts of artillery fire dropped on your head by basilisks and the like?
i use one unit of 10 kroot, 5 crisis suits, no pirahnas and 3 squads of 8 fire warriors, and have done just fine. i do apreciate the deployment advice though.
There are three kinds of people in this world, those who can count and those who cannot.
Support you right to play video games, its for the greater good...
Yes, you could hide your path finders behind the devilfish.
Or you could give the fish to the firewarriors, and just take two units of five pathfinders.
Now Riki, this question is specifically for you but I'm trying to maximize the survivability on my finders. I decided to go with five because its the smallest number you can take to make it two kills before taking a psych test and smaller units are more cost efficient and generally better. But my question is this: what is your opinion on a bonding knife on the guys?
One half of me feels like it would get me an extra turn of marker lights but the other half feels like it would be pointless since most opponents would be trying to completely wipe them out anyways. So I wanted your opinion on that.
Also, you should probably include a link to your XV8 tactica since you didn't touch on crisis suit builds in this. If only so six can call you a hypocrite for self promoted.
Thats all. Great tactica, you always pump out gold. Part of me feels like i should send you funds and let you master another army haha.