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After flipping through the Tau Codex, and a few others, I've pretty much decided that my spring/summer project will be to put together a Tau army -- they seem like a blast to play, way much moreso than the Marines I have, and the little inklings of IG/CSM I've tried putting together... Now I don't know a lot about the intricacies of the Tau, but here's the general approach I'm thinking of having my army take... I'm not putting it in the army list section yet, as this is only a sketch and not a full-on list --
-- I'd keep two squads of Fire Warriors with Markerlights back to form a small base of fire, so I can use their range to land some good initial hits on whoever's in line of sight, and provide some Markerlight hits to whoever needs them.
-- My HQ would be a Shas'o with Twin-Linked Burst Cannons, H-W Multi-Tracker/Drone Controller, 2x Shield Drones, and a Positional Relay, with 2x Shas'vre with Twin-Linked Missile Pods, Targeting Array, H-W Multi-Tracker
-- For elites, Two units of 3 XV-8s, all with Twin-Linked Plasma Rifles/Targeting Arrays
-- A Fire Warrior squad in a Devilfish, and a Pathfinder Squad, plus 3 vehicles (probably Hammerheads, 2 Rail/1 Ion) to get up close and personal fast
In a nutshell, the Fishes and tanks would move up 12'', firing the whole time with Mult-Trackers, and I'd use the Positional Relay to control the flow of reserves, deep striking both XV-8 elite squads so they land where the enemy is weakest and strike at them hard... Sound like this is something the Tau could pull off?
Now only can the Tau pull it off, but it can be devestating if the enemy is unprepared for it. Playing as Black Templars, my only loss to Tau has been from this kind of army.
Just make sure you have either a decent number of Fire Warriors or some Kroot to support them, so that they can reasonably distract your opponent. You can use this firebase to execute a refused flank on them and screw them pretty badly unless they are ridiculously shooty. If they seem ready for it, you could always just enter on your own side of the table and slug it out in the traditional fashion.
"Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the conquest of it." -Anon
Shas'O/Els have fantastic stats, they excel when used with high strength, low AP weapons like Plasma and fusions, hitting on 2+ and wounding most on the same (El with TA for +1 BS).
Bodyguards are bad news they remove the Shas's independent character status, and you have two HQ slots so fill them, take two Shas'Els with plasma /fusion or MP's with TA and you get two fantastic XV8 killing machines, that are very survivable due to IC status (they cannot even be targeted if they are not the closest unit)
A much better loud out is a 2 man unit of either Helios Multi for 134pts(PL/FU/multi with team leader with PL/FU/TA/HW multi) or Fireknives set up the same way but MP replacing fusions.
A team of 2 Deathrains for a cheap 111pts, these are really nice cheap suits I take a team of two with Twin linked MP', and TA with the team leader with a HW target lock, 4 STR7 shots a turn hitting on 3+ with a re-roll and target two separate units a turn if so desired.
With these teams you will have a hell of a lot more versatility than the 2 teams you were thinking of including, plus they can work well against a larger variety of units and at a variety of ranges.
Plus you could take two Deathrain teams and the other helios/firknife team for less than the two teams you detailed and still have 34pts spare.
I would go for two Hammerheads with Railgun, BC, Multi and decoys for 165pts, the Ion is OK but the Railhead is much more versatile and the submunition round is fantastic against 4/5/6+ save units (of which there are many) and not bad against MEQ's.
The Warfish for FW squads is less useful as it has to stay close to provide transport, but if you have the points then why not.
Also do not get up close and personal with Hammerheads, keep them as far away as possible from the opponents army, use the range of the railgun to maximum effect and ALWAYS move 12" a turn, this combination of range and movement with decoys will make the HH pretty much guaranteed to survive the game, avoid SMS on HH they tempt you to get close to use them and thats bad, leave them out and just take basic burst cannons.
If you DS them they cannot run and they will die, they are only two wound Marine equivalents and they cannot hold out on CC well either. Use them as support units, use cover and the jump shoot jump move to keep them safe, use the weapons range and the assault move to prevent return fire hitting them.
Lose the POS relay its pretty much useless and takes up valuable points and a valuable hardpoint.
SO if you followed my advice you would have:
2 HQ Shas'Els with either Helios multi and TA or Fireknife multi with TA 97pts each
1 XV8 team 2 strong, either Helios or ireknife with one team leader with TA and HW multi (possibly HW target lock as well if you have the points)
2 XV8 2 man Deathrain teams, TL MP, TA and team leader with HW target lock
1 FW squad in Devilfish (possible warfish if points available)
Note: you need two troops choices minimum for a legal list so I would take either another squad in DF or some Kroot.
1 Pathfinder squad, no railrifles and a Warfish
2 Hammerheads railgun, BC's, Multi and Decoys
Very nice core for a list and you still have 8 XV8's but they are a much more useful versatile XV8 loudout and a lot cheaper than what you were considering.
Anyway this is only my personal opinion and I hope it has at least given you some ideas and info you may not have considered, good luck
Or, I don't normally use XV-8s that much. Two Shas'Els are normally enough for me. What I really recommend is a Stealth Team (C'mon Riki, you're the one who originally got me hooked on these things!). A six man Stealth team is a great investment, honestly. Highly mobile jump infantry that can infiltrate, armed with Burst Cannons, and a stealth field... I never leave the Sept World without them. The squad is fairly expensive, but they can pump out a frightening amount of shots and it's hard for opponents to strike back. I'd take these over pathfinders, but I have little faith in the units anyway.
Also, I'd take out the pathfinders for a beginner list anyway. Put firewarriors in their place. Pathfinders have a spot, but it's best to get used to the feel of the Tau army in general before trying to get into the nuances of it. I like two full squads of firewarriors with their devilfish. This gives your troops a good degree of flexibility depending on opponent. Your sqauds can start out in the devilfish if you need them to move, or they can start outside. I've played games where my warriors never entered their devilfish. Twenty four warriors is respectable enough to serve as a firebase if you need to stand back and shoot against CC armies (Tyranids, Orks), and the devilfish allows you the option of protecting them from massed small arms if needed (Imperial Guard, Eldar). Devilfish are respectable tanks themselves, even with minimal upgrades.
Start with the basics and work your way up though. Get two squads of firewarriors and a commander, then play some small games. Work from there. You may find (as I have) that the masses of XV-8s aren't your thing. As I said, I only use two, my commanders. Or branch out and get some Kroot. They aren't as shooty as firewarriors, but are tactically more versatile (thought not necessarilly better; I mean, firewarriors do their one thing REALLY good).
So... Ya, that's it for my advice. And listen to Riki most of the time. He's not the end-all or anything, but he's about as good a Tau player as you'll come across. However, his tactics are very much to one side of the spectrum, and that may or may not be the side of spectrum you want to be on.
Hope to hear of your successes later.
The Pathfinders are a tough unit to use but so are most of the other ML options and I would recommend a pathfinder squad over ML FW squads anyday, at least they have some casualty absorbtion and a respectable amount of ML shots and as long as its made clear that they have to be deployed in cover they should do Ok.
As to my tactics, I can advise on most aspects of the Tau but this list seems to be aiming for mobile FW and XV8 heavy, something that follows my list type in certain points and Mech does seem to be the predominant type of list so it follows that my advice will seem to swing that way, but I have lots of experience with Hybrid lists and some with static.
Of course, what a player thinks he/she wants when starting out may not be what they actually do want. I was just saying to start with the basics and move up from there. And of course, my personal preferences are towards stealths at the expense of XV-8s. I've grown to have more faith in them based on my experiences.
But oh, before I forget. The most important peice of advice you'll ever have:
NEVER glue your weapons to your suits until you are ABSOLUTELY sure that's what you want. Trust me on that one. Use magnets if you can, or just stick them on. Don't glue them. It's murder to pull them back off with the entire suit coming apart. Was for me anyway.
But hey, all in good humor right?
I kind of agree with rikimaru. Although I've only been playing for a few months (so please correct me or give me advice) I feel that crisis suits shouldn't have twin-linked weapons. The crisis suit is an awesome unit and I would try to pull as many shots out of it as I can. And with a BS of 5 twin-linked is just a waste of points. Secondly, I think you should keep your crisis suits with inter-changable weapons and support sytems, because your twin-linked Shas'o would be useless aginst marines or Chaos.
Regarding your fire warriors, I think that using Markerlights would be great. I would always use Maker Drones though because of the networked marker light and so that I wouldn't lose any F.W shots. Then again if I was low on points then I wouldn't because Marker Drones are expensive.
As for your Pathfinders I can't say too much as I don't have experience but the devilfish is a great addition and is an great transport. It took me a while to get used to but I got it after a month or so.
Wow, quite a bit of solid advice already! I would've gotten back to this thread sooner, but hey -- college is a busy place after all, lol..
I appreciate you guys pointing out some of the holes in my army list -- that's why I came here before I started putting stuff together, after all! Now that we've seen what DOESN'T work, maybe I can sort of throw out a general theme or approach for my army and we can see what WILL work.
The whole reason for the deep striking suits, three tanks, and the Devilfish is that I want my army to be a very mobile, if even unpredictable force... I want to be able to use 12'' moving vehicles with guns blazing to really screw with my opponent, getting firepower anywhere I need to get it and trying to always hit him where he's the weakest. The Deep Striking suits, then, would be dropping in where I think there's a weak link in my enemy's line, to drop in and do some quick heavy damage, hopefully crippling that weak spot before the retalation can come in force.
So, speed and surprise, I guess, are the central themes of my army... Any suggestions, O Masters of Tau-y Wisdom?
well in my opinion theres a difference between tactics that are seemingly unpredictable, and those where you have next to no control, its a masive risk to be deepstriking those already quite mobile suits, and what do you gain? you end up in enemy territory with minimal support, or you might even deepstrike right onto an opponent, or get the right distance and deepstrike, shoot, do little to no damage then get assaulted the next turn, say bye bye to all those nice shiny suits. i have tried this in many games against my friends and it was too uncontolable for me atleast, to be a viable stratagy. in my opinion get more creative with on ground tactics, not hoping for a lucky role of the dice.
Well, drones are good for surprise attacks. Full squads can provide a nice punch, and having eight JSJ-ing pinning shots is pretty surprising. They can also deep-strike, and they aren't a huge investment so it's not as bad if things go awry. Also, people don't normally use drones that I've seen recently.
Definitely mount firewarriars then as well. No upgrades, just the devilfish. Two full squads w/ devilfish (Decoy Launchers and Multi-trackers) would set you back about four hundred and thirty points, give or take. Some people like to use Smart Missile Systems and Targetting arrays as well, but they aren't necessary. The double fish of fury is always surprising. Heck, moving forward is something people unfamiliar with Tau won't be expecting.
Going out on Riki's limb, the Deathrain battlesuit team is also a nice little 'Boo' unit. Two suits, one a team leader with a TA, TL Missile Pods, and a Target Lock. The other a regular suit with a Targetting Array and TL Missile Pods. Definitely a good unit for the 'holy crap' factor. Str 7 is not to be underestimated. It won't peirce marine armor, but they'll provide some light anti-tank.
Throwing a fusion blaster in a full stealth team can work well too for the 'gotcha!' factor. Fifteen shots coming from a squad of six won't seem that odd, people may forget about it being there. Just for the lucky moments when predators/dreadnaughts move too close, or a poorly positioned Leman Russ lets you get close enough for melta range. Not to be depended on though. It's not reliable, but it may prove worth the extra two points and the loss of three bursts shots.
Kroot are also nice. They are almost marines for half the cost. Of course, that cost reduction means no armor, but... Essentially free infiltration. And Kroot hounds can pack one heck of a punch when things get up close and personal. They aren't too shabby at shooting either.
For speed and surprise, a list using lots of Kroot, a stealth team, one mounted firewarrior squad, two hammerheads... Throw in two Helios Shas'Els to round things out. Your entire army would either infiltrate, move twelve inches a turn (or both: Stealths), be mounted in a transport that can move twelve inches a turn, or deepstrike (Though I wouldn't do this. I've tried. Doesn't work out well. Drones are a possible exception to this.). I'm not sure the points costs here... But I think it would work out to right around one thousand points.
However, lets see if Riki has anything else to say here. I guess I should just say this up front rather than hinting to it: I'd trust his advice a lot more than I'd trust mine. Just don't be afraid to experiment is all I can say. Proxy stuff first.
Other units for consideration (definitely proxy these though)-
Pirahnas - They hit hard, they hit fast, they die often. Some people swear by them, others... don't. Up to you to decide.
Sniper Drones - Gives you a markerlight and anti-meq firepower... But remember these can't hold or contest table quarters which is important. Useful in some cases, but many don't like giving up a heavy support slot to them.
Broadsides - the good ol' XV-88. Devastating anti-armor. Not good for much else. Depends on your opponents really. If you face IG with lots of tanks, some broadsides might serve you well. If you expect lots of CC eldar, chaos, tyranids, etc... Leave them at home. Exception is Monstrous Creatures. Broadsides can blow some holes in them.
Vespids! - ...pfft, just kidding. Proxy these if you must. Have not seen a use for these yet, honestly. They look cool... But then again.
My two cents on the parameters 'Fast and Surprising'
Oh, let me say this again: Deep striking your... anything, is not a good idea 99.987654321% of the time. We aren't space marines here. Suits have enough range that they can normally pot-shot from where they are. And the Jump-Shoot-Jump is one of the most hated, feared, screamed at tactics ever. Jump out of cover, shoot, jump back behind cover. Oh darn, you can't shoot back at me. That's normally good enough to frustrate opponents into making mistakes. Note, frustration only works of fairly new guys.