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Tau Learning Curve - Most important skills
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Old 25 Jul 2006, 15:00   #1 (permalink)
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Default Tau Learning Curve - Most important skills

It's been about a year and half for me since I started Warhammer 40k now and I was reflecting on how much better I've been getting at playing my Tau army. I wanted to start a thread that talked about the skills that I have, as a player, improved the most on and feel are the most important. I'd also like others feedback as well as to their own experiences. Tau was the first and only army I've really played with, so my insight may be Tau specific or 40k general.

1. Sportsmanship. This to me is the #1 rule of the game, and it was a hard one for me to "get" because I'm a competitive person. But when I played my first and second and even third games, it seemed I was either "winning big" or "losing big". I now think it's dangerous to put too much stock in any one warhammer game, because the dice are fluky! In a few of my first games, I thought to myself "I must suck." or "This army is horrible!" But really it was just a few unlucky die rolls. The game is alot more fun for me and my friends now that I have some games under my belt and realize sometimes it's just a good or bad day.

2. Game Distances. Sportsmanship is the number one attitude, but judging distance is the number one skill in my opinion. When I started playing, I didn't consider much past if enemies were "within range" of my guns. Now I not only consider that, but I also consider distance they are away for assault purposes, distance between my units should they get assaulted, etc. I play alot more "broad" now, keeping distance between my units and moving units alot more, even those "static" designs where they are supposed to stay still to fire their special guns. Much more I am able to actually pull off the tactic of surrounding a single enemy that has broken my lines at just the right distance to rapid fire and unload as soon as he is out of combat. Along this same vein, I'm getting much much better at deepstriking and selecting locations to place deepstrikers. Even my tank movement (which because they are so mobile is easy to take for granted) has become more precise.

3. Deployment. This really is yet another extension of "game distances" - but it's enough different for me to break it out. Looking back in hindsight, I made some pretty terrible deployment choices when I first started playing the game. I'm still working on this, as my deployments are much better, but still not great. Initial deployment is something that I've found if you don't do right, you'll be struggling the rest of the game in some cases. And just because you're playing mech tau and feel your are mobile, you still need a good initial deployment. Also, good initial deployment is based on your army, your opponent's army, opponent's deployment, terrain, objectives of the mission, and who is in reserves yet on both sides!

4. Know thyself. Old proverb yes, but true. As a beginner, there have been so many times that I thought something looked good on paper, to find out it really doesn't work that way in the game. To that end, these forums have been excellent at helping think through choices pre-game. They have certainly helped me alot. But even so, there is some playtime experience that is needed to really understand how cool plasma rifles really are, and when to use those vectored retro thrusters, and why your devilfish does or does not want a decoy launcher.

I'm sure the list can go on and on, but those are my initial 4. I'd like to hear feedback from others! What was your biggest hurdle when learning to play 40k? What do you think the most important skills you have as a commander are? I'm curious.

We all live in the fish!
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Old 25 Jul 2006, 15:04   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Learning Curve - Most important skills

Well, I didn't have to learn sportsmanship for 40k, as I had already learned about that from sports, but from your list alone, I would say that deployment was the biggest obstacle for me at first.

However, creating an army with a good overall plan is what took me the longest to master. You can have a great army list, but if you don't know how to use it, much of your advantage disappears.
War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it; the crueler it is, the sooner it will be over. - General William Sherman
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Old 25 Jul 2006, 15:59   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Learning Curve - Most important skills

Interesting subject.

Adding to what you said, I do think Sportsmanship is the most important thing. Make the game fun for your opponent, and you'll have plenty of opportunities to play. Make the game a tug of war about the "loopholes" in GW rules, and you won't find many who want to play you at all.

Know your rules, but know some people do things differently.
This is pretty well key to the fun factor. There are certain things I know I need to discuss with my opponent before the game - terrain details is the prime example.

But also I believe you should just generally know how things work in the basic rules, and especially in your own codex. Do you know how to explain the "drone controller" for a Sniper Drone team? Do you know how Feel no Pain works, etc., etc. The more codeces you of other armies, the better, too!

Deployment is the first movement phase, is a phrase you'll hear now and again. It's true. Know how your opponent's deployment affects your first turn moves. Poor deployment loses me more games than anything else - I'm still learning that aspect.

Learn some statistics:
I'm definitely not a "math-hammer" approach type of guy, but it's really important to be able to quickly calculate how many models you will destroy when your shooter shoots. What are the averages? What will be the consequence if you're below average? What will be the benefit if you take a risk and are above average?

Don't be attached to your "guys"
The more I remember that it's the job of all my toy soldiers to die in my service, the more fun I have. I used to try so hard not to take casualties. If I take a more bloody approach, I tend to play better.

Know the victory conditions:
I see a lot of new players who play every mission like it's Cleanse.
Their goal is to kill my models, and they have no tactical plan to achieve a strategic victory.

MOST Warhammer games involve the acquisition of terrain locations as a primary means to victory, and killing stuff as secondary. Knowing how to approach, take, and hold terrain (especially as a Tau player) is the ultimate key to taking your game to the "next level".
Proudly banned from both Mech Tau Tactica and Advanced Tau Tactica by Kai'Lore. Kai'Lore has no honor and the fact that my mere presence reminds him of this is more than his cowardly person can bear. He banned me from the new site after less than a day. =)
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Old 25 Jul 2006, 16:05   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Learning Curve - Most important skills

Originally Posted by heliodorus04
Interesting subject.

Don't be attached to your "guys"
The more I remember that it's the job of all my toy soldiers to die in my service, the more fun I have. I used to try so hard not to take casualties. If I take a more bloody approach, I tend to play better.
Snipped major quote of absolute total value. Outstanding summary heliodorus, but you hit on one that most people forget to mention: devotion to your art! This has always been my biggest drawback. I don't want my troops and tanks to die, so I lean cautiously. When I rage forward with guns drawn I take horrendous casualties, but I also do much better overall.

Nice touch that deserves karma IMO.

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Old 25 Jul 2006, 22:10   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Learning Curve - Most important skills

Some things Ive found to be very important.

Think Ahead
That unit of as,ksault marines may be no threat now but in the next 2 turns they might do some terrible damage to soft units you would rather not like to have die yet. Think not of what will hurt you in the next turn but what will become dangerous and when. Will it be two turns before that unit with the heavy flamer reaches your base, will it be two turns. Keep an eye on your enemy and when threats will become dangerous. It will help you decide how to react to it.

Know Your Enemy
Its very unsettling to be facing a new enemy and be caught by surprise when they pull out all their nifty special rules. There are many complicated armies and some really quite crazy special rules. Faith Points, Assasines, bio-morphs, chaos daemons etc, when you know what to expect though you can react to it far better than when it comes as a surprise. Thus take the time to ask other players about their armies and to at least skim the codex's of other armies. Many stores will have a customer viewing copy that you can skim through at the very least or you can borrow a friends codex. However you do it the more you know about your opponents the more of an edge you will have in actually gaming.

Just a few things I thought should be mentioned.

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Old 26 Jul 2006, 17:33   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Learning Curve - Most important skills

I think there are a number of considerations to bear in mind when discussing the skill sets required to lay well ...
You cannot be successfull until you learn to develop balanced and effective lists. How many points do you sink into hq, elites, troops, fast attack or heavy support? Am I designing a static giunline list or a highly mobile list or a hybrid of both. Do I want Kroot allies in the type of list I'm developing?
Look at the units available. I've seen list with multiple piranha squadrons do quite well. Yet, many experienced Tau players find them overpriced for their worth. Why is it that some can play them successfully and others cannot?
Are we designing an all comers list for a GT or just a friendly or themed list for fun?
This will determine how well you design your lists. There is no substitute. You can copy winning lists from the web and never win a battle with them. You need to learn when to attack, when to flank, how to deploy against certain armies. This only comes with expeience as the rules are not hard and fast but determined by the list you are using and the objectives.
Know what your aim is from the start of the game and do not get distracted. I remember losing a game because I failed to move an extra six inches to secure the points needed to win and I was certainly not hindered from it but simply lapsed in concentration.
Know the armies
It is not enough to know the rules of your own force. A well rounded player knows the strengths, weaknesses and weaponry of the armies he is facing. Youmust be able to determine what yur greatest threats are and wether to attack or avoid them.
Shooting Range
As stated by others, its important to be able to gauge distances. Failing a charge by an inch has consequences. But it goes further. You need to know the optimum distances your units are effective at. As an example ...
I found that playing Nurgle my optimum distance was 18". That is where I wanted to be so that I could shoot or if my opponent moved towards me I could assault first. Playing Deathwing my optimum distance was 24" so that my assault cnnons could do their dirty work.
Well we are playing 40k. Many armies can begin ripping you apart with shooting from turn one. There is never enough terrain - EXPECT CASUALITIES ... Do not get annoyed or distracted by losing a few troops and blaming yourself for poor deployment. More importantly is what special deployment moves do we want and what might we be facing - coming in from reserves, infiltration, drop pods, multiple fast moving skimmers, scout moves, etc.
The old standbyes were heavy at the back, elites ahead of them and troops up front or infiltrated. This does not work against every army.

This is way to broad a topic to get into specifics, IMHO. I play Krootau on occasion when I want a break from my other armies. Despite quite a few years of experience , I had a bad time with them at the beginning - not completely familiar with the best ways to utilize my units, forgetting what range I should be at, not taking advantage of some of my unitsspwcial abilities ( crisis suits and kroot ), etc. I'm getting a bit better now, lol. I don't need to be a Tau expert though, to understand how games are won and lost. I just needed to review what worked in the games played and what did not and make appropriate adjustments.
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Old 27 Jul 2006, 18:48   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Learning Curve - Most important skills

1. Know YOUR army… this may sound weird buts I have seen SOOOOO many games where players are in a situation where they have an advantage and squander it because they don’t know their army, for instance some orks charged someones hammerhead the other day as I got to GW, I walked by the table and put my stuff down and walked back then the ork player says “ive had his parahna tied up in combat for 2 turns”.. I was like ummm first of all that’s a vehicle and you can’t tie it up in combat and I asked the Tau player why he didn’t move and he said he didn’t know he could. (He also had FL’s and never used them… UGH.** I also had someone aske me the other day “Hey Nate, if you give a Hammerhead a Target array does that mean it counts as having turbo boosted 24 inches” I said that has nothing to do with a TA, TA’s affect BS…..UGH!!!

2. KNOW YOUR ENEMY!! When I played an inquisition player last week, the ONLY major damage he did the entire game was he had a model that could charge 12in, it wasn’t painted, not even primed so I have no idea what it was but it looked like a scout. It ended up charging my pathfinders and ALMOST consolidated into my vespids. It stopped 3in short and ended up choking in a pool of his own blood under Tau firepower.

3. Determine what is your most immediate threat and what is your BIGGEST threat meaning know what to shoot at and when. No you don’t want those Chaos Raptors to get to you…. but you REALLY don’t want that Chaos lord to get to you either… which will you shoot at first?

4. Deployment…… Don’t screw yourself by putting that Railgun on the FAR left side of the table, and all the action start happening on the other side of the table in or behind terrain because now its about as useful as a turd in a punch bowl.
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Old 28 Jul 2006, 21:09   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Learning Curve - Most important skills

Spending lots of points on nothing.
One thing I have seen among new players is that they spend lots of points adding wargear to their units.. points that in the end would give you the option of bringing another troop choice or similar. They focus too much on the special wargear and when they have spend 120 points on ekstra wargear for their leaders and characters they realice that those 120 points could have been spend on a FW troop and given them those 12 pulse rifle shots a turn.
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Old 28 Jul 2006, 23:31   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Learning Curve - Most important skills

I'm just starting to play Warhammer and I was wondering if people thought my idea was wise: to start with skirmishes (ie. "grots raid the farmers' fields for shrooms"), move up to small combats of 500 pts. ("ork units v. town militia") and so forth. (I currently am painting up my first army, Feral Orks, but Tau are in the wings and perhaps some Ogres. I also have that stupid MaCragge game - the roolz are included, heh heh -, but I can't be arsed to paint the Tyranids. Man, I hate painting Tyranids.)

I thought maybe the smaller unit combats would get me used to playing the game and its ins and outs before I start to escalate and face increasingly complex situations. A learning curve indeed: play skirmishes to learn my and my army's weaknesses and get a hold of the basics while learning how to adapt to other armies. Slowly, we'd get our speshul units in there as they became costworthy...
Scary Tau.
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Old 29 Jul 2006, 02:20   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Learning Curve - Most important skills

Originally Posted by Gairon
Spending lots of points on nothing.
One thing I have seen among new players is that they spend lots of points adding wargear to their units.. points that in the end would give you the option of bringing another troop choice or similar. They focus too much on the special wargear and when they have spend 120 points on ekstra wargear for their leaders and characters they realice that those 120 points could have been spend on a FW troop and given them those 12 pulse rifle shots a turn.

good point a good guild line to fallow that i use is

no unit over 150pts
except HH 190pts nothing over
Tau wins 38 tie 2 lost 8

Death Guard win 13 tie 0 lost 2

dark eldar wins 5 tie 0 lost 1
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