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Studying Farsight vs. Shadowsun Army Tactics [long]
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Old 24 Nov 2006, 02:18   #1 (permalink)
Shas'Saal
 
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Default Studying Farsight vs. Shadowsun Army Tactics [long]

I have been thinking about our “special” commanders for a while now. I have always been intrigued by the descriptions in the codices (old and new) of Commander Farsight (and now Shadowsun) and the descriptions of the tactics they use and what makes them great Tau commanders. My thoughts have turned to how to create an army around them and what units they might prefer in order to use their famed tactics and inherent abilities.

Starting with Farsight

I’ve seen often the opinion that – in particular – Commander Farsight is the “melee” commander and it is implied that he should be in close combat to make use of his excellent abilities. While it is true that Farsight offers a unique melee feasible, power weapon wielding Tau, I do not believe that this is how he should be used or even more so, that an army in his name should be built around the idea of close combat. I am convinced from reading the codex that Farsight’s goal is to have Tau avoid close combat. How he accomplishes this, however, is what makes his stratagems inherently different from Shadowsun’s. Let’s look at how I think Farsight WANTS to fight, and then examine what units, groupings and tactics his armies would enjoy most.

Farsight is renowned for fighting the Orc horde in a way that resulted in Orcs “chasing shadows”. I believe that Farsight uses a modified Kauyon tactic – and is one of the most patient warriors of the Tau race. Kauyon, being the patient hunter, is a tactic where I envision Tau elements being deployed very carefully and the enemy led to engage them at points of disadvantage where the Tau can bring superior firepower at range. I see Farsight using terrain to maximum advantage for both helping “lures” escape and also to set up “firing lanes” that which he can use to maximum advantage. Farsight’s warriors must not falter when asked to perform a task, as many of the roles in the army are so critical and Farsight sees that. It is for this reason that all troops are bonded and taught to rely on one another fully. Finally I can see Farsight’s ultimate interpretation of the “Greater Good” being that one warrior might sacrifice themselves to engage in close combat to become the ultimate lure, so that the rest of the forces have precious seconds to redeploy and bring superior firepower against either the enemy victors or the non-engaged forces using the melee as a further aspect of terrain. Farsight himself is not above this form of "sacrifice" - indeed it would be appropriate as a high honor.

Farsight Tenets:
Focus on ranged firepower at critical points (control firing lanes).
Use terrain and “lure units” to pull enemy into firing lanes and kill zones.
Realizing close combat is in many ways inevitable, minimize impact on entire army by being slightly better and using choice close combatants.

Farsight’s take on Stationary, Mech or Hybrid:
A Farsight army needs to be at least slightly mobile. It is critical that the “lures” and the “close combatants” be able to move a bit. Due to the fact that Farsight will set up firing lanes and definitely wants to take advantage of Tau range, some stationary units work very well (as stationary units tend to equate to more Tau firepower at range from our codex options). This also plays well with unit restrictions. Farsight can not have a lot of heavy tanks, or highly mobile elements such as Vespids and is limited in Piranha choices. Instead, Farsight seems to move toward crisis suits, which honestly are probable the best at fulfilling all of the roles of lure, point firepower, and melee interceptor. My suggestion would be to say Farsight should favor a Hybrid army - with strong static firebases supported by mobile crisis suits.

Favored Farsight units:
Farsight would like those units which fulfill the perceived roles in the army.
Large Firewarrior units with Pulse Rifles to set up firing lanes and protective ranged firepower.
A Broadside Battlesuit group is nearly perfect for setting up big-killer firing lanes.
I believe that Sniper Drones would also be extremely favored due to their range and stealthed protection at range.
Some Pathfinders providing markerlights into the firing lanes would also be excellent.
Crisis Teams and HQ Crisis suits play the role of lure and interceptor. They can lure either by baiting the enemy with JSJ shots or even by leaving areas uncovered, providing enemies a “safer” route to close (obviously a trap in the end).
Gun drones are give or take in this army, as they provide a decent intercepr option, but don’t really have the range or resilience to fulfill the lure or interceptor or firebase options well.
Piranha(s), while interesting, also do not fulfill any particular role better than any other unit. Possible exception might be that they could counterattack an undefended quarter after the enemy closes on the lure, but deepstriking crisis could do that as well.
Stealthsuits, are also interesting and can fulfill many of the same options as the Piranhas above and could be a decent lure crisis alternative; but for what they do - others can do it also and they really do not shine overly in this army.
The single Hammerhead or Skyray option is as always a very nice option to have, especially as it gives one of the best “response” choices in the army to unpredicted events. That said, they don’t shine as much in this army, as if you do everything right, you get in control and stay in control of the tempo using the lures and firing lanes. The first two heavy slots are more preferably spent on Broadsides and Sniper Drones. A third spot on a Railhead provides one more railgun (with submunition option), an Ionhead provides additional anti-Meq firepower, and Skyrays provide nice mobile markerlight support or can take advantage of the pathfinder's lights for a big seeker strike. Choice should be made based on opponent if possible in my opinion. Fitting the heavy tanks with flechette dischargers gives a possible option to “wall off” the firebase from a charge making them a kind of interceptor role.
Kroot and Vespid are unavailable to Farsight, but I think he would just LOVE the Vespid (fulfilling role of interceptor). Kroot don’t really have the range and Farsight wouldn’t want to sacrifice them to close combat, seeing that as more of an honor that the Tau deserve as a last ditch effort to save their brothers.

Game play:
Set up firebase, and slowly funnel opponents into the firing lanes. If you can do this, you will control the tempo of the game and lose little to no units as you opponents attempt to get close. Deployment and use of terrain is KEY KEY KEY to this army. When things go bad (and not before) Farsight, Commander, or Applicable Crisis Suit/Team can engage critical opponents in melee, but melee should be avoided as a rule.

Farsight’s goal could be considered “control our area of the board”. Deepstriking as a tactic is okay, if used to bring firepower into a safe area to take out a threat in the firelane or attempting to flank. Deepstriking behind enemy lines is not as good - unless by luring the enemy, they leave a particularly unprotected area that will be safe after deepstriker shots.

Crisis System Notes:
The Vectored Retro Thrusters offer a unique “interceptor” that can get away so long as it can withstand 2 rounds (yours and theirs) of close combat.
This is one of the only armies I see using the Failsafe Detonator. Again, interceptor group moves in and “holds” opponent until end of his or her assault phase and then boom and more importantly, on following Tau turn much shooty shooty. J
The indirect fire of an AFP provides a great “taunt device from safety” making the crisis suit wielding it a terrific “lure” or harasser.

Now about Shadowsun:

Obviously, Shadowsun has many fewer posts than Farsight concerning her strategy due to her being "new". Nevertheless, I feel that her rules and equipment as well as the codex “fluff” provide for a discussion of Shadowsun’s favored tactics.

Whereas I have often seen Farsight’s tactics listed or referred to on this and other boards as “Brutish”, I actually feel that Shadowsun could be more appropriately termed this. Whereas Farsight will patiently wear an enemy down by taking advantage of range and making the enemy work their way slowing toward the army (taking as many shots as possible in the process), I see Shadowsun as the ultimate expression of Mont’ka – taking the fight to the enemy. Rather than luring and waiting patiently to catch the prey, Shadowsun quickly assesses whatever battlefield she is dealt and immediately moves to bring overwhelming firepower to the weakest point of the enemy. Furthermore, Shadowsun will want to use momentum to her advantage and keep pressing that advantage. Basically attacking the “little crack” in the enemy lines, widening it and pouring Tau might into it. It is not at all a passive attack, but very, very active. Shadowsun I feel may be under the impression that the “Greater Good” involves bringing so much firepower that the enemy can be completely eliminated without close combat ensuing (or maybe just a single leftover trooper who would be overwhelmed by Tau quickly). In the world of 40k, this relies on a phenomenon that I will call “perfect dice”, which the older and wiser Farsight has come to realize he can not rely on.

Shadowsun’s Tenets:
Focus on speed and overwhelming firepower at an attack point.
Identify weak points in enemy lines that can be attacked and reinforced with speedy troops.
Attempt to bring enough firepower to completely eliminate enemy avoiding close combat.

Shadowsun’s take on Stationary, Mech, or Hybrid.
Mech Mech Mech!! Shadowsun needs speed and mobility in order to “bring firepower quickly and decisively to the front”. All units must have maximum mobility in order to do this and to react to the ever changing battle lines. (Incidently, adding Aun’Va covers adding a stationary element to this army to create a massive Hybrid force).

Favored Shadowsun Units:
Stealth Suits (particularly with fusion blasters) – These are basically mobile troops that, like Shadowsun, enjoy the protection of a stealth field. That stealth field is more key than you might think, as it attempts to only allow the part the enemy force that is being engaged at the weak point to fire back effectively. This protection can not be overstated and makes several stealth teams following shadowsun in a charge an effective tactic.
Crisis Suits (because they deep strike) – Deepstrike these forward to reinforce attackers and to hit newly created “weak points” in the enemy lines once the attack begins.
Fish of Fury Firewarriors – nearly created for this type of tactic. Highly mobile, bringing massed firepower quickly to bear where needed.
Hammerheads – Extremely mobile, resilient heavy firepower, an extremely effective and good choice. I can easily see Shadowsun armies containing 3 hammerhead variants in the heavy support slots.
Skyrays – Good supplier of mobile markerlights, but might not be as useful as Hammerheads due to lack of other markerlights in army for using the skyray's seekers.
Piranhas – ABSOLUTELY! Fantastic speed firepower, especially in squadrons. Can be outfitted for infantry or heavy armor as needed. (Just like the guns for stealth suits ironically).
Pathfinders – Not a good choice, limited due to their stationary status for markerlights or railrifles.
Sniper Drones – Also not good, see Pathfinders above. Ionheads are superior anti-mech in this army.
Broadsides – Not good, even with ASS they will be almost too slow. Railheads will have to provide the railguns and are a better option in this army to do so. Also, Fusion Stealth and or Piranhas can be used effectively as anti-tank.
Kroot – A very important element. Kroot become highly mobile in woods terrain. And can infiltrate to forward positions to help set up for the quick strike. Kroot should be used to support the line breach from the sides - engaging and assaulting the units to each side of where the firepower will be brought - to slow reinforcements and eliminate closest return fire from the enemy into the strike point.
Vespids – Extremely fast, fantastic firepower, perfect addition to this army.
Gun Drones – Not bad, but also not great. Fulfill an anti-infantry role similar to the Stealth teams, but without the stealth.

Game Play:
Identify “attack point” during or after deployment. Infiltrate Kroot to tie up potential quick reinforcements. Then move entire army to the identified strike point and annihilate the enemy there. As mentioned above, the army moves with Shadowsun to bring the firepower to the enemy. This gives the added advantage if they all move up together, that they may use Shadowsun's command and control node for leadership. Expand kill zone outward while reinforcing the attackers. There is even the potential to quickly move entire army to secondary strike point after they hit the first one.

As opposed to Farsight, Shadowsun could be considered to “control the enemy’s parts of the board”. Deepstriking is done aggressively into and behind enemy lines.

Crisis System Notes:
Well, there are a great many good options for this army, nearly everything is good.
I could really see taking CIB and AFP. Their usual limitation (range) is minimized in this army. Likewise flamers suddenly become interesting. Positional Relay is excellent for providing more reliable deepstrikers.

Well, that’s my thoughts for now. I know it’s long, but I’ve been thinking about this a while now. Feel free to post comments and I will try my best to respond in a timely manner (although my schedule has been crazy lately).

-Aun’Shasta
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Old 25 Nov 2006, 13:21   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Studying Farsight vs. Shadowsun Army Tactics [long]

. That's incredible.

...but would Farsight really like Vespids? His problem seems to be that they are not Tau, rather than availability...

(now, what are the odds on this turning into a Shovah Theory/Farsight/Shadowsun fanwar/sticky:P ?)
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Old 25 Nov 2006, 14:30   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Studying Farsight vs. Shadowsun Army Tactics [long]

if you didn't already get karma for this, I vote +1. Oe note for Shasdowsun, drones are actually soemthing to think about because of there pinning ability. The ability to neutralize one unti is amazing, especially for the way you depict shadowsun, because pinning opens teh crack a bit bigger (or makes a new one) for one turn. However, in one turn, if the enemy lacks a unit, they are pretty much screwed, especially if it's a flank. Just my 1/50th po a dollar
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Old 25 Nov 2006, 14:51   #4 (permalink)
Shas'Saal
 
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Default Re: Studying Farsight vs. Shadowsun Army Tactics [long]

Por'la Vior'la Kais Ukos and shasocastris, thanks for responding. I was beginning to think that everyone thought I was off my rocker and was patiently waiting for the post to fall off the page without comment.

Por'la Vior'la Kais Ukos:
I totally agree about your comment on Farsight's personal philosophy. He would NEVER accept Vespids into his army, especially in such a role of honor as an intercept unit that would come forward to save another unit. That role in his mind is reserved for Tau. Personal feelings aside, what the unit does from a pure stats standpoint and how it is played on the table makes it terrific at this job, potentially one of the best in the codex. I think if you offered this unit to Farsight telling him the stats and abilities without telling him that it wasn't made up of pure Tau, he'd be excited about it. But you're right, bottom line it would never be used that way due to Farsight's rules and personal fluff limitations.

shasocastris:
Great point about Shadowsun's tactics and pinning. I did put some thought into pinning options. They definately enhance the Shadowsun tactic and make to me (finally) a good argument for taking carbine firewarriors. That said, it is a secondary consideration for me - here's why. So many armies that I play simply make pinning without excessive markerlights a moot point. Most Chaos bring fearless troops, Tyrannids use synapse, Necrons have great leadership all around, Space Marines bring special characters, above average leadership, and know no fear, Orcs are fielded against me in such numbers they come running anyway. I've also found that I want markerlight teams to help reliably pin opponents (drop their leadership). If you can pin, I agree. It's wonderful - especially in this tactic. But it's too unreliable against who I play to make it a primary part of the tactica. Important enough, however, to not leave out!

By the way, if you can pin, I simply love the idea of using this tactic and as you do 1) Firewarriors pin nearby units 2) Kroot charge nearby units (presumably with low leadership - that's how they got pinned) and 3) Unit fails to regroup and is eliminated with no casualties to Tau Empire!

Shadowsun is all about the "momentum" that the attack is supposed to have and ride on in my opinion.

-Aun'Shasta
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Old 25 Nov 2006, 17:00   #5 (permalink)
Shas'Vre
 
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Default Re: Studying Farsight vs. Shadowsun Army Tactics [long]

Great write up I hope you got Karma.

That being said, 2 things I have to point out, 1 minor and one kinda major.

First the minor point.

Farsight would love to use Piranhas!!!

Reason is that they can be used to block an enemy assault unit about to hit a lure or other static unit, giving that unit time to redeploy. The Piranha can both physically block and use its drones in an open ttopped assault to accomplish this. I think this would make Farsight wish the o-1 restriction were not there.

Now the major point,

When it comes to shadowsun, I don't see her as commanding a mech force, but more as supporting a static firebase. The reason for this is her LD boost from her drone, her stealth suit, and extremely short range on her guns all seem more conducive to long range support operations. She would not want to operate near an enemy because her stealth would be largly negated and she would be in CC in no time. Instead, I see her as hanging back with the more static elements of a firebase and using her LD boost to help hold the line and make priority tests easier. Another reason I believe this is that static elements are usually more susceptible to morale failures than mobile units like HH, Piranhas, Skyrays or even Vespid. Units that would benefit from her morale boost are fire warrios,(which wouldn't really need to pay for a shas'ui or bonding with her around), broadsides, sniper drones, and crisis suits,(which are more mobile, but can still be used to defend firebases).
Just bcause here weaponry is short range and has a decent amount of volume, I'd say their short range range makes them more defensive in nature overall. She'd only use them as a last resort in order "plug gaps" in the line. Her weapons are great for this role since they are so strong and can put down most big nasty creatures that have avoided death from massed pulse fire.

But, I'm not saying playing her your way is wrong, just that rfom my point of view she is better in a firebase support role.

Por'la Vior'la Kais Ukos - BTW Where'd you get that smiley?????


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Old 26 Nov 2006, 01:56   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Studying Farsight vs. Shadowsun Army Tactics [long]

Hey Israfel420. Your Minor point I agree with. The Major point may have been misleading communication on my part.

Quote:
Originally Posted by israfel420
Farsight would love to use Piranhas!!!

Reason is that they can be used to block an enemy assault unit about to hit a lure or other static unit, giving that unit time to redeploy. The Piranha can both physically block and use its drones in an open ttopped assault to accomplish this. I think this would make Farsight wish the o-1 restriction were not there.
Terrific point. Used like this, the Piranhas do suddenly become a superior "blocking intercept" unit. I did not realize the potential tactic of "opened top assaulting" with the drones to tie up units in CC, but it would be perfect for this. And with their speed, Piranhas can cover the largest response area.

Quote:
Originally Posted by israfel420
Now the major point,

When it comes to shadowsun, I don't see her as commanding a mech force, but more as supporting a static firebase. The reason for this is her LD boost from her drone, her stealth suit, and extremely short range on her guns all seem more conducive to long range support operations. She would not want to operate near an enemy because her stealth would be largly negated and she would be in CC in no time. Instead, I see her as hanging back with the more static elements of a firebase and using her LD boost to help hold the line and make priority tests easier. Another reason I believe this is that static elements are usually more susceptible to morale failures than mobile units like HH, Piranhas, Skyrays or even Vespid. Units that would benefit from her morale boost are fire warrios,(which wouldn't really need to pay for a shas'ui or bonding with her around), broadsides, sniper drones, and crisis suits,(which are more mobile, but can still be used to defend firebases).
Just bcause here weaponry is short range and has a decent amount of volume, I'd say their short range range makes them more defensive in nature overall. She'd only use them as a last resort in order "plug gaps" in the line. Her weapons are great for this role since they are so strong and can put down most big nasty creatures that have avoided death from massed pulse fire.

But, I'm not saying playing her your way is wrong, just that rfom my point of view she is better in a firebase support role.
Starting at the end and working back. The overall intent of my post was not to suggest that these are the tactics that MUST be used when playing armies of Farsight or Shadowsun. It all started as an exercise to try to figure out more about the character of Farsight or Shadowsun. I wanted to guess what type of tactics they themselves would prefer to use. They (along with Puretide) are the examples of great Tau generals we have. It would be similar to doing a historical study of Rommel or Patton or another of our own races military generals to figure out their own modus operandi. So can you hang back and defend a firebase with Shadowsun? Sure. Can you shove Farsight straight down the enemy's throat with success? Yep. We each have our own tactics which may work - especially considering the situation. I was more going for reading what fluff we have and using character stats to support it to ascertain what tactics these Tau generals use.

Farsight in the codex and other places is said to have "made the Orcs chase shadows". That to me does not sound like he rushes the enemy headon. Shadowsun's references tell of her "disrupting command and control structures" of the enemy. It talks of "raids" and "decisive attacks" that are so effective as to scatter the enemy with no casualties. I believe I read also somewhere that she splits her force into smaller attack squads that can not be focused upon and strikes fast and hard with each one. These are the reasons I do not see the leader that walked up to the statue of Farsight and melted it down with her fusion blasters as passive, content to sit back with a firebase picking away at the enemy.

So if you are going to be aggressive with Shadowsun's stats and equipment and fulfill the description above, how do you do it? Point one - she can't do it alone. Especially if she is to scatter the enemy and avoid the fatal close combat. She needs firesupport. Stealthsuits and Crisis provide great support that can keep up with her speed. Why keep up? Because of what Israfel said - you want to use her C&C drone. These units do better and stick around longer if they have that benefit. What is even better for this? Firewarriors - but they are slow. This is why you put them in Devilfish - essentially mechanizing the force. Now the devilfish can keep the warriors close to Shadowsun and when they pop out to shoot - they get all the benefits of her C&C drone. Bring all these units together and you now are mounting enough firepower to decisivly eliminate your initial target. Point two - her stealth fields work best at range. True - but remember they work laterally as well as vertically. What I mean is this. Strike the unit 12" away from her and instantly eliminate it and the next unit becomes - tada more than 12" away! Let's say 24" or so away. Now that stealth field is giving a 50/50 chance that they can't fire at her. Oh and unless the unit is very special, they can't assault her next turn either. I think this is how Shadowsun identifies and moves to a weak point. Let's add in point three - infiltrating kroot, vespid, tanks - all don't benefit from her leadership. This is fine, as they can move to intercept and slow down units that might otherwise immediately move in after Shadowsun's initial strike. Remember that unit 24" away? What if some infiltrating Kroot decide to assault them the same turn. Now the closest unit that can respond to Shadowsun is farther away...stealth field looking all the better and helping all the more.

Point four - attacking like this and moving up each turn to engage the enemy does not allow for easy protection of a firebase. Literally, units like broadsides and sniper drone get left behind and make easy deepstrike and fast attack targets. What's more, by assaulting those targets, the enemy ends up gaining a terrific flank and make Shadowsun's forces want to "split" for some to deal with the units behind while others press the attack. No, I think it's an all go situation. Hence why I suggest Mech Tau.

Thank you, Israfel420. It helps me to think through this topic more when I get good questions and suggestions!

-Aun'Shasta
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