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How to build a Tau army
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Old 09 Jan 2006, 01:38   #1 (permalink)
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Default How to build a Tau army

This topic is my answer to every army list posted in this forum... every flawed list hopping on one foot while dancing the tango to draw a game. This is how to avaoid flaws.

Generally, your points will be spent on:

1. Mobility (Moving around to objectives, pimo firing lanes)
2. Firepower (This is split into four different catagories)
3. Defence (Dealing with our assault-challanged troops, absorbing firepower/deep strikers.
4. Leadership

Note that some things overlap. This doesn't make them better, but it saves points...

A good army is made by NOT maxing out on everything and slapping "Army List" to it. It is about taking the effective upgrades and using them well. My Commander is certainly safer with a shield generator, but I (personally) would never need it!

Section One: Mobility

From the dawn of time, strange things have appeared on our gaming tables: Big things. These are usually mountians or bunkers, but their size has done something strange: They block our shots! An opponent who thinks he is very cunning will place lots of shot-blockers on the table, negating our firepower. So, mobility is being albe to effectively bring our weapons to bear. The extra bonus us obvious: Being able to bring your shots to bear also means you can claim objectives.

Example: Do I take a Hammerhead or Broadsides? Broadsides are a cheaper source of Railguns, but instead of hammering away at AV 14, I can scoot with my Hammerhead and get some juicy Av 12 on your Leman Russ. This brings us to our second maxim: You can be too mobile. Sometimes, and this requires thinking, mechanizing would compromise your firepower.

Now, mobility is a good thing. The best way to achive mobility in a Tau list is simple: take FWs in Devilfishies, and take Broadsides with Hammerheads. This lets my troops move across the battlefield quickly, getting to that 3+ cover first and then letting loose. A few turns later, I scoot to the objective! Simple no?


The defining point of our list is our firepower. With anything in a Tau list, balance is essential. I think firewarriors are a great unit, but I accept they may not be the best when 2/3+ saves are involved.

Fire Power can be broken down as:

Light/Medium Infantry

For light and medium infantry (4+ saves) it is ok too look no further than our Pulse Rifles and Burst Cannons. With frightening effeciency, they will mow down guardsmen and orks in droves. They key thing here is to bring enough, and only enough. The best ways to get this type of firepower is from:

- Firewarriors

- Stealthsuits

- and the Railgun Submunition

The wonder of these things is that they are very effective against light vehicles too, as well as 3+ saves. And so a common flaw exists: Taking too little and taking so many that is clogs up your other choices. What works for you depends on your gaming environment...

Big Armor

This is really simple. Bring railguns. All too often I see a list with too few railguns. Try to think about how many AV14/13 a beardy opponent will bring...

Heavy Infantry

I'm talking 2+ and 3+ saves here, stuff that needs sterner measures than a good pulse rinse, the toughies... yea.

I bring a squad of Helios to deal with them. Remember, a railgun is just as good... once all vehicle threats are delt with. The most important thing is to have a unit dedicated to their destruction, and then some supporting fire that can finish off any unit. Under-reliance on these will have you pouring shots into terminators that will do absolutely nothing.

Mid Range Armor
This is the hardest to cover. A deathrain is not nearly as effective against AV 11 and 12 as I wish it was. Some good transport killers are:

-Deathrains (They work... sometimes)

-Seeker Missiles

-Ion Cannons

We are so limited... but you need them!


It is easy to ignore Leadership... but we have only three ways of improving our morale!

- Ethereal has saved me so many times... I wish everyone could find use for them

- Shas'ui is the most direct way, very effective

- Finally, some people actually bond their units. Gamewise, this is minimally effective... it makes a nice fluffy finish however. I would advise against bonding.

Plain Stupidity

Finally, after looking through your list, try to think about what makes sence. I cannot cover everything, but this is where I look at an army list and declare it beyond repair. Little stuff, like over-loading on wargear for a Shas'O can sink your list. This is where lists get killed, giving Devilfishes Black Sun Filters.

Hope I helped a newbie... or two...
Watch me rebuild my army! - Now with pics of my new scheme!

Open invitation to all: Send me a pm, and I'll be have a look at your army list.
[url=http://forums.tauonline.org/index.php?topic=11198.0]Crisis Suit Theory, Army Composition, and why Fireknives suck - You've got to read this classic by T0nka
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Old 09 Jan 2006, 07:03   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: How to build a Tau army

That was an interesting yet effective overview on Tau army building. Even though im not a newbie... :...I think that it would help most people building an army, not that i personally need the help.... : awsome work

Originally Posted by Wargamer
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Old 09 Jan 2006, 13:26   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: How to build a Tau army

Very nice over-view! Please, take a Karma Cookie!
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Old 09 Jan 2006, 19:15   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: How to build a Tau army

First, great article. Very simple, clean, I like it.

Originally Posted by MechTau
Mid Range Armor
This is the hardest to cover. A deathrain is not nearly as effective against AV 11 and 12 as I wish it was. Some good transport killers are:

-Deathrains (They work... sometimes)
Take two squads of two and focus their firepower. Once they are done blowing away vehicles, they can focus firepower on a squad to almost the same effect as a submunition round against marines because of the high strength. Not always effective, but helpful, and very cheap.
"The gue'la will either except our destiny, or die!"
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Shasocastris, since my return to these boards, nothing has made a bigger impression than you and your views.
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Old 09 Jan 2006, 19:23   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: How to build a Tau army

Here's an article I wrote a while back on just this topic.
"i like to think of playing against my list as being like punching jelly. you put all your effort in but it just moves out of the way and you cause no damage. then your arm is covered in jelly. and the chicks come out and start wrestling in the jelly, and i drink a beer with stone cold steve austin, and we watch the chicks jelly wrestling, and then the slap-bass funk starts wakka chakka wakka wakka woh" -- Spooky, describing Mech Tau

"You can of course make a list that attempts to work via fragility and easy VP donation and Pathfinders fit into that just fine." -- kai
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