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Old 13 Nov 2008, 15:42   #1 (permalink)
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Fort Collins Colorado
Posts: 882
Default Building A Comptetitive 5th Edition Tau List (Part 2)

This is the second part of my guide to building a Tau army that can compete at the tournament level in Fifth Edition. Part one is here:

It will probably help to read part one first as it has the list that these strategies and tactics refer to.

Tactics and Strategy

When each player has an objective to hold and one to claim Iíll need most of the army on the board to keep my opponent from simply squatting on the objectives and being impossible to shoot off in the short amount of time available to a reserve based army. In this sort of game the Kroot will be held in reserve while the rest of the army sets up a firebase.

How the firebase is prepared will depend on the number of objectives. If I need to hold my own base while capturing my opponentís, then Iíll drop the big Broadside team right at the back of my deployment zone behind the objective. The Pathfinders and static Fire Warriors will deploy around the objective, trying to stay as far back as possible to give me as much time as possible to shoot. If space is an issue, I may keep one Pathfinder team off to the side of the objective. Depending on the opponent, one squad of Fire Warriors may spread out in front as a screen. The mobile Broadsides will deploy well to the flanks of the objective, preferably away from any of my other units as well. The mounted Fire Warriors will hide somewhere within thirty inches of the objective. One Pathfinder Devilfish will be placed on each short board edge.

The strategy here is it to lure as much as possible of the opposing army into attacking my objective, because it and everything guarding it is one big piece of bait. Yes, Iím using two scoring units, the most fearsome unit in my army, plus support, AND the objective Iím supposed to be holding as bait. The best bait is the kind that your opponent canít afford to refuse. Focus fire on any incoming Troop units. Given a choice between a Marine Command Squad and a Tac Squad; blow away that Tac Squad. Itís quite likely that your opponent will overrun your objective. By the time he has, he will have taken serious casualties though. Use the mobile Broadsides to pick off any remaining Troops and at the last minute rush the mounted Fire Warriors in to contest or capture it.

Meanwhile, the Sneaky part of your army is claiming the enemy objective. Iíd generally choose to have the Kroot Hound squad come out first. Ideally there is a static shooty unit near a board edge I can ambush. If not they can move to capture the objective. The other option with them is to use them as counter assault to save my own objective. Especially against orks they will be quite efficient. The small Kroot Squad is going to come in on one of the short board edges. Immediately pick it up with one of the Pathfinder Devilfishes. Hopefully your opponent was sufficiently intimidated by your bait that he didnít leave much behind to protect his own. If a large number of soldiers are occupying his objective, then his attack on yours is likely faltering. In that case, your firebase will have enough breathing room to support your attack on the enemy objective.

I used a similar strategy against a Blood Angels list with success. I didnít have nearly as many Broadsides, but the deployment was similar; firebase on my objective with faster units off to the side. I killed or broke all the Tactical Marines coming at me before the Death Company and other Assault Marines overran the base. His one remaining Tac squad was guarding his objective. I picked away at them throughout the game and then slipped a squad of Kroot in a Devilfish to claim it at the end. He had a more powerful force left at the end than I did, but I controlled the objective and won the game.

Loot Counters

If the game has multiple objectives, Iíll keep about the same set of forces on the board, so everything but the Kroot.

Deployment here is dependent on where the objectives end up. In deploying the objectives try to cluster a majority near one table edge with the rest near the opposite table edge. This leaves the middle largely empty. I suggest trying to get the second turn, and thus see how your opponent deploys, before castling on whichever end the board has the most objectives.

The strategy in this mission is to spread out your opponent during deployment and destroy his army piecemeal. Hopefully your opponent spreads out to try to capture all of the objectives. If he puts to many troops into claiming the half of the board with few objectives then you should be able to route the rest of the army and claim a majority of the objectives.

If it looks like you can easily overwhelm the half of the army attacking your firebase, then bring in the Kroot to support the firebase and win by holding all the objectives on that side. If your opponent is smart and focuses on the side with the most objectives, then Outflank with the Kroot squads. They have decent numbers but will struggle against anything big. It might be good to keep one small Broadside team in the center of the board just in case your opponent sends a dreadnaught or other large vehicle to the weak side. In addition to supporting an attempt to capture the weak side objectives, the team will be largely unmolested by assault troops. Sending troops to kill the Broadsides would take them too far away from the objectives for them to affect the outcome there.

Your goal in going after the weak side objectives is to give you some wiggle room on the important side. If your Kroot can contest both objectives, or claim one, then the fight on the other side of the board becomes much easier. You can then afford to leave one objective to your opponent, probably whichever one is closest too him. This will let you focus your firepower into a much smaller area, and if there is one thing the Tau excel at, itís picking a single target and annihilating it.

Keeping the mounted Fire Warrior squad hidden is a good idea in most circumstances. Itís quite possible that the other Fire Warriors will be routed as a smart opponent will target your Troops in an objective based mission. The Devilfish will let them tank shock enemy units off an objective on the last turn.

Kill Points
Kill point missions allow the Tau to be very sneaky because we donít have to hold any ground and thus donít have to engage the enemy en masse. If you kill only one of his units while suffering no losses itís still a win.

I practice this means youíll keep almost your entire army in reserve and then bring in as much as possible in at once on a late turn using the Shasíelís Positional Relay. The Shasíel unfortunately must begin on the board, so hide him as well as possible. Hide him in a corner as bait for an ambush. Putting another bigger and scarier unit on the board in a far away spot should help keep the enemy from focusing on the Shasíel too much. I think the large plasma-sides squad is ideal. It has far too much firepower and range to ignore. If put in an opposite corner from the Shasíel, your opponent will have to split his army if he wants to disrupt your strategy and kill a deadly unit. If he does go after both then you can pick which side you want to set up your ambush on. Pick whichever one has the most fragile units that can yield easy kill points.

For maximum reliability, the ambush must wait until at least turn four so that your reserves come in on a 2+. If you feel you can pull off the ambush with fewer troops then springing it early can work. In the meantime though, youíll need to bring in two of your units ahead of schedule. You have two options here: try to kill one enemy unit quickly, so you effectively trade kill points, or hide the unit so it can join the ambush later. In general, the Outflanking units are the best to bring in because they have more potentially safe areas to enter into and more potential targets. A unit of Kroot running onto the board and into a forest in your opponentís deployment zone will either make him further split his forces or ignore them completely (2+ going to ground cover saves in a forest on 7 point models is beautiful). One tactic is to bring in a Pathfinder squad in the corner of your opponentís deployment zone and park it so it forms a right triangle against the table edge. The Pathfinders then pile out and hide in the small space between the Devilfish and the board edges. This has the disadvantage of presenting your opponent with two kill points, making it more worthwhile to target the unit. The advantage is that if the Devilfish lives, it can move aside and let the Pathfinders light up the units youíre ambushing.

Hopefully at this point your opponent has a solid chunk of his army in a corner of your deployment zone, possibly amongst the corpses of your bait units. Now you can bring in 32 Fire Warriors, four Broadsides, plus some combination of Kroot and Pathfinders onto the board right in front of them. All these units can rapid fire, and if the Kroot are around, possibly assault any survivors. Now youíve hopefully taken a decent lead in kill points and your opponent might have as little as one turn to even the score. Unfortunately for him, the rest of his army is off chasing your Outflankers or in the opposite corner of the board. Even fast assault troops are going to have trouble reaching you in time to get into hand to hand; so long range firepower is a higher target priority at this point. Shoot units that you have a chance to wipe out completely, vehicles are generally good targets, or units that have the range and power to knock out your own units. So a lascannon equipped Dreadnaught would be a high priority target, while a mass of jump pack equipped honor guard would not.

Never forget that victory points donít matter. It helps your opponentís score just as much to kill a ten man Kroot squad as it does to kill the big plasma-side unit. Use this to your advantage. Big expensive units make great bait because you can lure several kill points worth of enemies into a trap with one big unit. While the victory point trade off might be close, the kill point ratio should be 3:1 in your favor.

How you rate the value of units changes if you play in a tournament that has adopted the ĎArd Boyz style of modified kill points. Here HQs count as 3, Elites, Fast Attack, and Heavies count as 2, and only Troops are worth a single kill point. In this situation, focusing fire on fragile elite units becomes even more essential, as does protecting your own. In these scenarios, using your HQ and Broadsides as bait becomes much riskier. I think the Broadsides are still the best choice to hold the opposite corner because they can probably rack up a kill point or two before they die by targeting vehicles. The Shasíel is more troublesome. He has to be on the board for the strategy to work. I think in this case springing the trap early becomes more desirable because you can save 3 kill points worth of you army. In bringing in units ahead of the main strike, Kroot are now much preferable to Pathfinders. The Pathfinders make an even juicier target, while the Kroot have the best chance of holding off whatever is bearing down on the Shasíel for a turn while the trap is completed.

This strategy of kill point denial and a last minute all out strike can be effective in some circumstances, but disastrous in others. Whether you want to use it or not depends entirely on the opponent. Orks can effectively cover almost your entire deployment zone, and are very resilient to damage. Trying this against them would probably fail as the ambushers would kill 40-50 Orks, only to be swamped by the other 30-40 that were in that corner. Against Orks, the best bet would be to castle and hope to kill them faster than they can charge you. Armies that are very resilient and/or can cover most of the board, as well as armies like Mech Eldar that can move from one edge of the board to the other very quickly, are poor targets for this strategy.

Where this strategy is most effective is against an army that would crush yours in a straight fight. This Tau list would be murdered by a double Lash of Submission Chaos list 9/10 almost regardless of player skill. If you could quickly kill one of the Lash casters and a few more fragile units, though there are few in the Chaos Codex, you might have a chance to eke out a win or force a draw. Against other armies that come in from reserve, such as Daemons and drop pods, this strategy also excels. It negates their primary advantages of determining where the battle will take place and getting in the first round of shooting. A player accustomed to dropping next to the enemy and engaging at close range is going to have to restructure his plans on the fly when faced with only one or two potential targets.

If you look at your opponentís list and like your chances in a straight up fight, then go for that, as this strategy does depend upon luck and surprising the enemy with something they probably havenít seen before. If you look at it and it seems like the rock to your paper, then itís time to resort to your repertoire of sneakiness.

These strategies and tactics can easily be applied to other Tau lists, so don't think you have to go out and buy half a dozen Broadsides to compete. The units chosen are based on my personal preferences and haven't been thoroughly tested as a fighting force yet. It is better to apply some aspects of this guide to your own army than to try to copy it wholesale.

I hope this guide will be useful to people.

Happy hunting!
When you wish upon a star, your wish may come true. Unless that star is a meteorite hurtling towards the earth. In that case you're just screwed; unless you wished for death by meteorite.
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