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Tau Melee
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Old 09 May 2007, 01:31   #1 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default Tau Melee

Yes, we are known for our inability to melee. However, upon reflection over my last dozen games or so, I realized that I've been winning slightly over two assaults per game. Now granted, I do play tau far more aggressively than anyone else I know, but I really feel that our weakness at assault is often overrated. Lets look at the melee capabilities of the tau army, shall we?

First off, we have photon grenades. If I could buy these for suits, I would every time. I love the concept, the only real problem is that the firewarriors and pathfinders are simply squishy enough for them to not really be that effective.

Next, emp grenades. Expensive for our infantry, granted, but in some situations....like when facing deep striking monoliths, or armored company, a little extra antitank capability is handy. The flaws are pretty significant though, as generally, you get a maximum of one shot at this. Also, our units that field these are anything but quick(and the devilfish isn't open topped), so it's not likely to work twice against the same opponent.

Defensive upgrades. Shield gens and shield drones change suits from power weapon bait to relatively resilient units. A unit of broadsides with drones is unlikely to die to anything short of decent amounts of power attacks. Personally, I prefer a shield drone over a shield gen, as it's both slightly cheaper AND adds an extra wound. The disadvantage, of course, is if more instakilling saves are required than you have drones.

Etherial: Not capable in melee personally, but of course, there is the preferred enemy special rule. I've found the +1 WS to be mostly irrelevant, as it won't change the rolls to hit against the vast majority of opponents, but it's otherwise ok. The only real downside is that you stand decent odds of losing fw/pathfinder units, or at least having them flee out of position. On the bright side, a FW team with an etherial can have up to four drones, providing a little something extra in terms of melee capability. The rerolling ld is nifty for getting tau units to stay in combat, but it's a shame it doesn't help out the kroot, since they could really use it.

Gun Drones: The only thing they appear to offer is inititive, but they also possess mobility. This is important because while a carefully chosen melee can be helpful, tau certainly don't need to seek cc with just anyone. They make a great addition to static firewarrior teams as, if you have a shas'ui, they cost about the same as a FW, up your unit size, and do ok at shooting as well. The couple of faster attacks in melee is really just a lil bonus.

Kroot: The obvious choice. Cheap and absolutely loads of attacks(the absolute opposite of suits). However, they fall faster than wet paper, and have a less than desirable ld. The I on the base kroot is also kind of weak, but against many units, this can be solved by taking hounds. They hit first, you take the wounds on them, and get full attacks from the regular kroot, giving you the most attacks possible in the all-important first round of combat. What does this mean? Well, it means that kroot are great screening units where cover is available, and they also function as a nifty counter charge unit. Just don't treat them like a catch-all assault squad.

Stealth Suits: Cover is these guys advantage. That, and two S4 hits give you a reasonable chance of forcing saves. If you suspect melee might be in the works for these guys, I strongly reccomend taking drones. Note that while you have to fill all hardpoints, you can take a mere one drone per suit if points are at a premium. Against shooting, they'll act as ablative wounds...I mean, what would you rather lose? And point for point, an attached gun drone shoots just as well as a stealth suit. In melee, though, you get higher init in case you opt to charge, 3 S3 attacks instead of 2 S4, and triple the wounds for eating power attacks. Note that the higher model count also boosts attack number on the charge.

Crisis Suits: The Ninja'O is a popular variant, capable of being a real roadblock for any unit without power weapons. Farsight is a beast as well, and he's one of very, very few units of tau capable of pulverizing big nasties in melee, especially if his retinue is with him. Great strength and durability is these guy's forte. Also, the higher Ld makes them better able to stick around if they lose combat.


Promised stats:

Assumptions: No team leads except where marked. No charge bonuses except as marked. No traits/doctrines on any targets. In examples, targets have no power weapons or extra CC weapons and the following squad sizes(GEQ:10, MEQ:10, TEQ 5). I presume all opponents hit on a 3+, and tau hit on 4+ unless otherwise stated.

1x FW/PF/Drone:
GEQ: .17 dead
MEQ: .06 dead
TEQ: .03 dead
Result: Obviously, termies are bad. But enough firewarriors can trash a few guardsmen with ease.

1x Etherial(Honor Blade)
GEQ: .83 dead
MEQ: .33 dead
TEQ: .17 dead

1x Etherial(Symbols of Office)
GEQ: .67 dead
MEQ: .22 dead
TEQ: .11 dead
Result: From a pure melee point of view, we can see that the honor blade boosts the kill rate reasonably...but do you want your Etherial in combat?

Shas'El
GEQ: .83 dead
MEQ: .33 dead
TEQ: .17 dead
Result: from a combat point of view, these guys trump Etherials. Same damage, vastly better survivability. Also, they can shoot first. The downside is that they don't grant fearless, but the Ld isn't terrible, and anyhow, etherials are really bait to be singled out if with anything other than an honor guard.

Shas'O
GEQ: 1.11 dead
MEQ: .44 dead
TEQ: .22 dead
Result: Not shabby, depending on target. A charge will help even more. Personally, I don't even give my Ninja'O hit and run...I give him shield drones. Sure, he can't get out of combat, but neither can they, and hey, two more attacks per combat increases the odds of actually winning.

Shas'vre/ui XV-8
GEQ: .55 dead
MEQ: .22 dead
TEQ: .11 dead

Stealth Suit
GEQ: .44 dead
MEQ: .17 dead
TEQ: .09 dead
Result: remarkably close to three drones in damage dealt.

Kroot
GEQ: .44 dead
MEQ: .17 dead
TEQ: .09 dead
Result: Exactly the same as a stealth suit. In actual practice, WS 4 occasionally will make it even better. See why these guys are awesome at countercharges?

Large Scale Examples:

6x Stealths and 12x drones being charged by one of the following units:

Round1(stealths first)
GEQ: 4.68 dead
MEQ: 1.66 dead
TEQ: 1.23 dead
Other guys hit back-
GEQ: 5.32 kill 1.77 drones
MEQ: 8.34 kill 3.71 drones
TEQ: 3.77 kill 2.51 drones

GEQ: Guard lose combat, and test at -3.
MEQ: Tau lose combat, no negatives.
TEQ: Tau lose combat, no negatives.

While guard unsurprisingly fare worst, keep in mind that when combat resolution is close, you can risk taking saves on suits. However, try not to do this until the drones they control are dead. Going to a second round of combat, unfortunately, hurts, as inititive order hurts tau. At least the charge damage is done, though.

Assuming drones go before guard, simul with MEQ/TEQ. Suits go last.
GEQ: 1.74 dead off the remaining drones. 3.58 GEQ kill .60 drones. Stealths kill 2.64 GEQ.
MEQ: 8.34 kill 1.85 drones, 8.29 drones and 6 stealths kill 1.52 MEQs
TEQ: 3.77 kill 1.68 drones, 9.22 drones and 6 stealths kill 1.06 TEQs

GEQ: One guy left...hes dead, regardless of how it happens, he's now irrelevant. Killing them in their assault phase is pretty much perfect, too.
MEQ: Nearly a tie. Luck could swing it either way, with tau a bit more likely to lose combat. However, tau takes the check at full Ld, while the marines are outnumbered 2:1
TEQ: Same as MEQ, except with a 3:1 outnumber modifier.

Result: I could keep going, but I want sleep, and the basic principles are clear. If you survive the charge, this unit can eat a charge by a full generic unit, and beat them down(eventually). Note that the drones are fast enough that the same is true of charging said unit, and if some of those drones are shield, a power weapon or two won't change anything.

General Guidelines

Frags: Expect them. Nearly everyone has them. However, you should use and love cover as much as possible. Going simul is a lot better than going by init anyhow. =P

Running Away: Our low I really hurts us in sweeping assaults, as we have a very low chance to escape from most units. I suggest removing all models in btb first, regardless of weapons carried, etc. After all, all those toys are pointless unless the squad lives.

Again, more coming later, just need to sleep now.
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Old 09 May 2007, 01:53   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Melee

I have to agree that people underestimate Tau in close combat. While Tau do suck at it, it's more because they lack offensive ability, rather then defensive ability. FW's can be quite durible, they just can't hit back, and because combats revolve on who caused more wounds, an opponent just needs to do more damage and get a good roll for sweeping advance, regardless of who he's facing.

One nice thing about kroot is that they don't have an armor save. Why is that good? Because they diden't have to pay for a save (like other units), so thier perfect to send against those power weapon wielding units (howling banshees). Just sit back and laugh at your opponent when he finds out his power weapons are just dead weight ;D.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyndmyr
Etherial:
If we weren't looking at the cost, an ethereal could be quite...decent....in combat. WS4, STR5, with 2 shield drones, is no picnic for any light infintry opponent. He'd be all the more better with a power weapon though.
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Old 09 May 2007, 02:30   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Melee

Tyndmyr,
I am glad you said this and would have to agree with you. It was interesting to see the past two times I have gamed against the Space Marines, my oponent sent an attack squad at one of my FW Squads. Of course it took a couple of turns to get into CC and of course my isolated Firewarrior squad was able to take out a lot of his assault squad. Well we were locked in close combat for two turns and in the mean time my other squads were able to focus on his other troops. He ended up attacking that squad with two assault squads and eventually took me over, but while he is in that fight my Army completely destroyed his Army. I guess what I am saying is if his assault squad was not able to overthrow my normal FW squad like he and everyone thought, it really isn't much of a weakness. I will give an oponent a squad to fight while I take out the rest of his Army.
Thanks for all of your other suggestions about Tau Melee.
I would suggest to other Tau users to not back down. Think of different strategies and be the aggressor, hey you will get an additional attack.
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Old 09 May 2007, 02:37   #4 (permalink)
Shas'El
 
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Default Re: Tau Melee

Another very useful unit is the Shas'O. He has 4 attacks! ;D With a Stimulant injector he could possibly hold off gaurdsmen, or be a Ninj'O. And he has 4 wounds!, and all other stats are boosted! The extra 25 points is worth it in my opinion, especially against my mortal enemy, Tyrranids. If you choose to Deep Strike, I advise this option too! He is the best Tau unit in CC!
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Old 09 May 2007, 04:32   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Melee

This good, but I'd like to point out that preferred enemy is actually very powerful.
It doesn't give +1 WS, it makes you hit the enemy on a 3+, regardless of WS, unless they are a non-WS vehicle, monstrous creature, or independent character.

Suits can become powerhouses when an Ethereal dies, especially a Shas'O.
5 Attacks on the charge, at Strength 5, hitting on 3's is not to be laughed at, even by MEQ's, just don't charge HQ's/monsters etc.
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Old 09 May 2007, 05:24   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Melee

Doh. For some reason, I always get it confused with the old Ork rule Farsight gave. No idea why.

You are, of course, correct.

I'd really like to know exactly how that rule works in multiplayer games though. All enemies? All enemies of that race?
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Old 09 May 2007, 06:06   #7 (permalink)
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Why? Do you like beating up your allies or something when your etheral dies? >

And I believe it is all enemies of that group- ex. If you're playing IG+SM with a nid partner, you should have already beaten them sensless. 8) But if you had an ork partner who allows the SM to kill the etheral, you get it against SM but not IG. I may be wrong.
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Old 09 May 2007, 06:44   #8 (permalink)
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The codex makes no destinction, you get prefered enemy against your enemy. If IG+SM are both your enemy, then their both your enemy. And their is no clause saying you'd get it vs. the enemy that killed the ethereal. So picking one enemy to have PE against has no bases in the rules. Here's a simple experiment, what if you were facting a DH or SH army that took allies. I.E. it's one army controlled by one player, not a 2 vs. 2 game, but they have IG+GK troops. Would you only get PE against one of those armies that the other player was controlling? I don't think so.
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Old 09 May 2007, 14:44   #9 (permalink)
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Well, every other instance of preferred enemy I know of specifies a race. For example, if you are playing guard, and have the Xenos-Fighter doctrine(say you chose Orks), and said orks have kroot mercs.

You do not get the benefit of the doctrine against the mercs.
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Old 09 May 2007, 16:39   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Melee

What exactly is it that you're referring to as a Ninja'O? Shas'O, obviously, with Vectored Retro-thrusters, I'm guessing? What weapon?
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