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Strategies: Denying Shots - The Last Crusade
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Old 13 Feb 2006, 15:40   #1 (permalink)
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Default Strategies: Denying Shots - The Last Crusade

In preparation for the release of the new Codex, the folks at MTT have begun work on an entirely new set of articles for an entirely new tactical website called The Advanced Tau Academy which will replace The Guide to Mech Tau. As the new name suggests, the site will discuss tactics and strategies relevant to all army playstyles.

Every few days, I'm going to post the "beta version" of an article here for comments and critique. When the new codex is realeased, this new site will be available where these articles will be collected. This is the 4th in the series. Here are the others which have been posted thus far:

Tactics: Markerlights - The Beginning
Units: Skyray - The Empire Strikes Back
Units: Broadsides - The Legend Continues

At the end of each article is a section titled "The Bottom Line". This is an opinion paragraph that details how I like to configure and use the unit. Furthermore, you'll occaisionally see a few sentences in italics in which I've broken from the flow of the discussion to offer a brief opinion. As such, take everything said there with a few grains of salt. Depending on your playstyle and personal preferences, these comments may be entirely inappropriate.


[size=14pt]Denying Shots[/size]

While other armies have some ability to accomplish a similar effect, the Tau have the distinction of being the best army in the game at denying your opponent suitable shooting targets. In fact to some extent, Tau Commanders are forced to adopt this strategey in order to be successful. We just don't have the staying power to go toe-to-toe in the shooting phase with any serious shooty army. In addition to being a practical asset on the tabletop, this idea is well supported in the fluff as well.

In general, the notion of denying shots falls into three categories, all of which can be exploited simultaneously.

Mobility and Terrain

The Tau have a number of ultra-mobile skimmers which can fire on the move and pass freely over terrain. This mobility allows them to move to where they're needed most while simultaneously positioning themselves around terrain so as to block LoS to as much of the opponent's army as possible.

Our Jet Pack assault move performs a similar function. Battlesuits and Gun Drones have the extremely useful ability of being able to move out from behind cover, shoot, and then retreat out of LoS in the assault phase, a tactic affectionately refered to as Jump-Shoot-Jump (JSJ). This staple Tau tactic is not only one of the first learned by new Tau Commanders, but also one of the most vital to their success.

Weapon Dilution

Less understood and less tangible than JSJ, weapon dilution is nevertheless an important part of our doctrine of denying shots. The idea here is that the "average" take-all-comers list generally includes enough anti-vehicle and anti-infantry weaponry to take on other "average" take-all-comers lists. We can therefore bias our own list so heavily to one side of this spectrum that we overload our opponent's ability to counter us.

The most common use of this idea is Mechanized Tau. By bringing 5+ fast-moving, decoy-launcher equipped skimmers each of which require in the neighborhood of 10-13 LasCannon shots to bring down, your opponent's heavy weapons are so horribly overtasked they can't possibly take out all our tanks before they're themselves wiped out. Furthermore, by packing all of our infantry into AV12 vehicles (or using our assault move to end our turn out of LoS), we simultaneously make useless every single point he's spent on a dedicated anti-infantry weapon. Every point spent on Heavy Bolters, Shurken Catapults, Lasguns, etc is uterly useless.

A similar effect exists for a Tau army composed entirely of infantry. Every point spent on anti-vehicle weaponry goes largely to waste since we've brought no vehicles! Sure he can feel free to shoot that LasCannon at Kroot in cover if he'd like! This strategy isn't quite as effective as Mechanized Tau simply because LasCannons can still earn some points shooting infantry, and Battlesuits are still prime targets for mobile anti-vehicle weapons. Furthermore, some would argue that our vehicles are one of our greatest strengths, and leaving them behind solely for a minor dilution effect is unnecessarily handicapping yourself.

SMS, Seekers and Steath Suits

These weapons have the unique ability of being able to shoot the enemy without being shot back. Although the Stealth Armor on the Stealth Suits is by no means a sure thing, when it works, it can not only protect the Stealths from a round of fire, it also causes your opponent to waste their shoots entirely! The SMS and Seekers are excellent weapons and don't generally suffer from the "unreliability" that Stealths have, however we generally can't make them a substantial part of our army on account of the significant infrastructure cost associated with bringing them in larger quantities. Nevertheless, all of these weapons mesh well with the Tau notion of denying shots.


The Bottom Line

Whether they know it or not, most Tau Commanders win or lose games against shooty armies based on how well they deny the enemy the ability to target them. Often, all of these three methodologies can be used in a single game. Turns 1 and 2 might see you skulking around terrain firing with long range assets, indirect weapons and Jet Pack equipped units while your Devilfish wait patiently behind a forest. Then turn 3 everything jumps out, your Devilfish making a beeline for their targets while the rest of your army provides covering fire and a dilution effect on account of an overabundance of targets. Turns 4 and 5 see the heaviest fighting while you attempt to use terrain to deny LoS to a portion of the enemy army while you crush a flank.
"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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Old 13 Feb 2006, 19:51   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Strategies: Denying Shots - The Last Crusade

Wow T0nka, I must say, another great post. You are a great addition to this community, and I'm sure I speak for many of us when I say your work is admireable and awesome to read.

However, in this thread I believe you have left out a very important factor. Say I have this skimmer, devilfish for instance. I fly it right up my opponents nose, in the middle of his army. Now, if he wants to target anything further away than this tank, he has to pass an ld test. This will not only make him think twice about firing anti-infantry weapons before anti-tank weapons, it will also mean that (provided your devilfish is still alive when the anti-infantry guns start blazing- it might've been brought down by anti-tank weapons earlier) if your opponent doesn't pass his ld test, he will be wasting shots, as he can't hurt the AV12 vehicle with weakly heavy bolters and small arms fire.


I love this little manoeuver, and I don't know how many times my opponent has been annoyed because 30+ anti-infantry shots end up being wasted against an impenetrable skimmer. Although many of the armies out there are ld 10 re-roll all over, or the likes, sometimes even they WILL miss their ld test. Not to mention, there *are* armies which don't nearly have that ld potential- makeing this even more powerful.

Just a thought guys..

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Old 13 Feb 2006, 20:25   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Strategies: Denying Shots - The Last Crusade

Good article Tonk...when is the Gue'vesa/Marker light addendum coming?
Olannon - I think vehicles are dealt with differently than other models when it comes to making leadership rolls for closest target.
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Old 13 Feb 2006, 20:46   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Strategies: Denying Shots - The Last Crusade

Kroot 7" in woods also have the 'I shoot you - you cant shoot me!' Tau ability
Though I walk through the valley of the swarms of the clueless, I shall fear no idiocy, for the M-STAR flagged them 12 seconds ago, and the JDAMS are already freefalling.
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Old 13 Feb 2006, 20:50   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Strategies: Denying Shots - The Last Crusade

*Tau in crisis suit* "And everybody has got to love that, isn't that right guys?"

*shot up SMs mumble at point of plasma* "Yes"

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Old 13 Feb 2006, 20:55   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Strategies: Denying Shots - The Last Crusade

good at atticle though you should add a piont about landing a fish to block targets
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Old 13 Feb 2006, 20:56   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Strategies: Denying Shots - The Last Crusade

wow tonka great stuff, i agree with olannon you are a great addition to this community
man's time is past

the time for tau is now
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Old 13 Feb 2006, 21:07   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Strategies: Denying Shots - The Last Crusade

Originally Posted by Omen
Olannon - I think vehicles are dealt with differently than other models when it comes to making leadership rolls for closest target.
What makes you think that? Interpreting the rules clearly shows that this include tanks indeed. It's also been covered in Tau Online's FAQ, take a look for yourself if you haven't seen it.

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Old 13 Feb 2006, 21:47   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Strategies: Denying Shots - The Last Crusade

Indeed, it's an annoyingly common mistake that results from a not-very-rigorous reading of the target priority rules. I spent a good half hour convincing the local GW's employees recently.
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Old 17 Feb 2006, 14:27   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Strategies: Denying Shots - The Last Crusade

Great article Tonka.

I use a slight variant of this tactic very well with my hybrid army. My two hammerheads use terrain to block line of sight to the majority of the enemy's anti-tank guns, forcing most of the enemy's anti-tank guns to fire at my infrantry (who are as much as possible in cover, 25-30" away).

My target priority is then any anti-tank than can get to my hammerheads, and any nasty anti-infrantry squads (eg. devs with 4 heavy bolters).

By trying to get his anti-tank firing against my fire warriors and kroot in cover, and annilating his long range anti-infrantry asap I increase the survivability of my hammerheads, and reduce the efficiency of his weapons.

However I've found that this my tactic only works ifI have a large firebase of fire warriors and kroot (46 fire warriors and 14 kroot in my list).


View my 40k Blog at: http://rathstarramblings.blogspot.com/
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