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The Utterly Comprehensive guide to playing a Tau army I
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Old 15 Mar 2005, 20:23   #1 (permalink)
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Default The Utterly Comprehensive guide to playing a Tau army I

The Utterly Comprehensive guide to playing a Tau army versus Eldar

First things first – Unit by Unit guide for our guys!–

[size=14pt]HQ[/size] – With only two options here things are pretty simple. One HQ is always compulsory but two should be considered in battles around and over the 1500pt mark (at this limit I take both a commander and a Ethereal). Remember not to sink too many points into your HQ as each option is just a single model strong and will do nothing for your model count.

[size=12pt]Ethereal ‘Aun’[/size] –

[size=9pt]It is speculated that they exert some kind of phermone based or latent psychic control over the other casts, as loyalty to the Ethereals is absolute and unswerving. If an Ethereal were in such a mind , he could order another Tau to kill himself and would be obeyed immidiately.[/size]

A worthy leader of any tau army and a fantastic centrepiece of an army when painted well, spend time on this model, the Ethereal deserves it! He inspires the fellow Tau on the board the courageous acts of valour of courage, but don’t get fooled here! He has a pretty average statistics line, and furthermore, without an armour save at all he is very vulnerable. Equipping him with an honour blade and sending him into combat is just too foolish and unthinkable for words. The ethereal is certainly not an offensive unit. Coupled with what can happen if he gets killed and may wonder what is the worth of having him in your army in the first place. Well I encourage you to think again. For a meagre 50 points your army suddenly becomes as solid as a rock, dependable not to break under fire. If you haven’t invested in bonding squads then it becomes even more important to pass those leadership checks at under half strength or face routing!
I myself only realised how beneficial an ethereal was when I used him in my 1500point army for the first time and understood how beneficial he could be. Also, it is extremely easy to keep him safe as well! When deploying you may either attach him to a squad (making them fearless) or run him alone. I prefer the latter option to be able to make best use of his independent character status. By embedding him in a unit (but not making him join it) who hangs back and hugs cover (static fire warriors/broadsides etc.) means that he is virtually untouchable as the opponent must wipe out an entire squad to reach him, and must have got close enough to be able to do this too! Finally this means that deepstrikers that want to get close to the ethereal will not be able to assault him (box formation of fire warriors 2” apart), shoot him, and even face the dangers of scattering onto his ‘guardian’ squad and being eliminated!
Even in mechanised armies he can seek safe haven within a devilfish, making best use of cover itself! To conclude on this unit, he is a support unit, and at 50pts is a very effective one, little skill is required to keep him alive, but when this is done you will see the difference. Despite saying this, as he doesn’t have any offensive capabilities at all (by the time you decide you need to charge him then all hope has been lost anyway!) then this loss in a tau army may be noticed at the 1000point mark or below. Consequently I only take him in battles of (around) 1250points or more.

Aginst Eldar?

Nothing speical to use against Eldar really. Hide him away is my advice is there is enough terrain seeing as the Eldar have really only the swooping hawks to catch him out, and even then careful positioning to make use of his IC status should gaurd you against that!

[size=12pt]Commander ‘Shas’o’, ‘Shas’el’[/size] –

[size=9pt]Tau Commanders are formidable warriors, frequently sporting scars bionics and disfigurements earned in their career.[/size]

Tau battlesuit pilots of exceptional skill may eventually be made commanders after proving themselves to be exceptional leaders, tacticians and warriors. To represent this, both tau commanders have upgraded statistics from their other XV8 brethren, most notably the increase in BS (!) and wounds!
It may be tempting to treat these as so special that they need to be kitted out to make sue of their superior BS, pack them full of weapons, and hardwired systems (you may take three). However for just one model that has the same survivability as a crisis suit this is always unwise. A commander, whilst being slightly better than an ordinary crisis suit, is a potential points sink. Even bare bones they cost a fair amount. For this reason I tend to just equip them with ‘normal’ combinations. That is to say, combinations which do not require any hard wired options to be taken and that I would give to normal crisis suits, therefore the most common for me would be the fireknife combination (missile pod, plasma rifle, multi-tracker). Having said this there would always be more worth of putting weapons with low rates of fire on this model (Fusion Blaster’s especially) to make use of the commanders higher ballistic skill.
One main question here is often the choice between Shas’el and Shas’o. Having used both before in battles I find them virtually the same. As I almost always kit them out with the fireknife combination and make use of the IC (independent character) rule then I notice neither the extra wound, nor the extra point of BS on the Shas’o. However I do notice an extra 25 points I have spent on him! It is certainly no crime to be taking a Shas’o, but the Shas’el is definitely more points effective and I would recommend it in almost all circumstances.
If the decision has to be taken between the commander and ethereal then as I have already stated the commander takes priority under 1250points. However, over this limit there is no harm in taking both!
A common mistake when equipping a commander is to give him a bodyguard retinue. Up to 2 shas’vre can be taken, but believe you me this is always a huge mistake. Not only will the commander lose his independent status, but also he becomes a huge fire magnet now he can be targeted more freely. And at his high points cost this is a bad thing. Furthermore the bodyguards themselves, being shas’vre, cost 10 points more than a normal shas’ui XV8 for just an increase in close combat abilities! If crisis suits are wanted then take them for cheaper in the Elites section, not here!
Finally how to use your commander. Always make sure he is behind another squad to make use of the IC rule, therefore you don’t have to worry about hopping in and out from cover. Thus making him effectively faster than your crisis suits (in terms of sensible straight-line distances). Due to this I always use him as a support unit. Usually accompanying crisis suits, but travelling anywhere in the battlefield and supporting anything that is in danger. As he cannot complete missions/capture objectives it is worthwhile to take risk with him, get up close to enemies (here is where that Fusion Blaster may come in handy for tank busting) and distract them as they waste fire and movement trying to bring him down. To summarise he is a very versatile unit and can be kitted out for many purposes, be daring with him whilst not using him as a points sink!

Against Eldar?

Commander is worth taking versus any army, kitting him to take out eldar though? Eldar can come in many varieties I have to say, against a multitude of vypers then missile pods are the way to go, they also work great against aspect troops. Seeing as you never want to get too close to the devastating Eldar short range arsenal the range of the Missile Pod warrants it as one of the best choices, therefore twin-linking it is never a bad idea as well! The remaining hard points and hardwired options can be filled as you wish seeing as Eldar armies can be very different.

[size=14pt]ELITES[/size] – Like the HQ section you are limited to just two choices, some pretty simple decisions, the skill comes in using these units. As a general rule I like to keep my Elite section no bigger than 25% of my army’s points limit.

[size=12pt]Crisis Suits ‘Shas’ui’ [/size] –

[size=9pt]They are experienced fighters who have fought the dealiest foes and triumphed. Their loyalty and skill is beyond question and the best and bravest of them may be elevated to Shas'vre.[/size]

The signature unit of the tau army, the XV8 crisis suit. Probably one of the most versatile firepower units in the whole game! Just like the commander they suffer however from the problem of becoming a points sink, a dangerous one for their survivability.
To combat this some take shield generators, conferring invulnerable saves better than terminators! However this is merely a waste of points, as the main weakness of the crisis suit is coming down to massed light fire and failing a couple of those 3+ saves. Therefore a combination for crisis suits must be versatile but not cost too many points at the same time. The possibilities are endless and all depend on which armies you will be playing. But beware, the crisis suit has a poor ballistic skill, so whatever you do take, make sure its either twin linked, or the suit can pump out enough shots to make its mark. Taking this into account there is one weapon combo that I find the most useful –
Fireknife – multi-tracker, plasma rifle and missile pod. This is the most versatile combination with no argument. It can pop tanks, marines, and still release a healthy number of shots, working from 36” to 12” there is no surprise it is the most popular. If you do not know whom your opponent will be then this is definitely the combination for you, however for pure power armour killing consider twin linked plasma rifles too. As support systems go then things are pretty simple. The multi-tracker is needed if you have two weapons systems, full stop. The target lock is a waste of points, with the weapons available you will want to concentrate on your foe squad by squad. The shield generator is undesirable for reasons already stated, and the blacksun filter isn’t worth the hard point, if useful.
It almost doesn’t matter how you gear up your crisis suits, but how you use them dictates how well they will perform. As they have been gifted with the tau jetpack then use it! Hug cover, hopping out to shoot and then back to stay hidden. It’s very simple and will cause you enemy’s great stress! Do not fear of going to 12” to the enemy also, only at this range are you using the plasma rifle to best effect, just hope back 6” and you are almost untouchable for fleeting and jetpack troops too!
As for what specifically to target then do not worry about this either. As the crisis suit is so amazingly versatile then you can use it as a support unit. By this I mean taking out he targets that your fire warriors and bulk of your army cannot reach. Hidden tanks for example, or saving fire warriors from the incoming space marine squad. When prepared for anything (fireknife!) then the crisis suits will be able to cope with almost anything in a supporting role. They are too fragile to use as a direct spearhead, or to go too deep into enemy territory, but they are perfect for hugging cover, frustration and delivering killing blows where they are needed most! That’s why every tau player loves his crisis suits!
As a final piece of advice for these guys, keep them in separate units for as long as possible to give the enemy 3 targets to aim at rather than 1 squad of three crisis suits, thus splitting and saturating his fire to each one! This may not always be possible, but where it is a lone crisis is always the best option to go for. Two is never a good number for those all on your own tests, so the next step up is a solid three man team which will have to suffer 4 wounds before any leadership tests need to be made! Use wisely!

Against Eldar?

They can run rings around any opponent, very useful for Anti-Vehicle support when kitted out right as this can often be a major threat from Eldar. Missile Pods, like with the commander are must have's however, either twin linked or with a multi-tracker and another option its hard to go wrong. The need for plasma is not always very great here, against wraithgaurd and jetbikes there is the risk that if the squad isn't downed in shooting, you will either be pulverised by Wraithcannon fire, or assaulted by jetbikes (whilst not being overly dangerous will tie you up). I also advise keeping at long range and in cover to avoid the low AP return fire which could potentially fry your expensive suits. Only moving in close for capturing objectives or administering the certain killing blow.

[size=12pt]Stealth Suits ‘Shas’ui’– [/size]

[size=9pt]Many a foe of the Tau emprie has found himself attacked from an unexpected quarter by Stealth teams positioned ahead of the main army. [/size]

Hiding in the shadows waiting to pounce the stealth suit doesn’t pack so much of a punch on its own like its XV8 brother. However they are sometimes even more effective.
Firstly always take in sixes, their weaponry means at this number they will be pumping out 18 strength five shots every turn, a force to be reckoned with for any opponent. There is really no two always to kit these guys out, 6 men, bare bones with no upgrades is always the way to go. Upgrading a shas’vre so he becomes better in combat for 10 points is stupid in its self, but then adding a markerlight to keep this squad static is an even bigger mistake and prevents the squad from being used properly.
So, onto how to use them. For starters they infiltrate, an invaluable quality in itself, especially with 4th ed. rules. Plonk them down in cover, invisible to the enemy and 18” away from some lightly armoured prey. In the movement phase you will bring your stealth’s from out of the shadows and unleash volleys of burst weaponry onto an unprotected flank, then hop back to 24”, preferably into cover of some sort.
You will then be protected from all assaults (almost!) and even if the enemy can see you, they have almost a 50-50 chance of spotting you, as they must fire using the night fighting rules, thanks to that stealth armour your troopers are wearing. XV15’s are better against lightly armoured foe who naturally fail their saves more easily, but even space marines will fail 2 saves per turn from this unit on average, making it another versatile unit to have. As it should always be infiltrated it is an excellent choice for completing missions or capturing objectives, or guarding then with invisible fire. Even when assaulted these guys will always strike first with 2 strength 4 attacks and have 3+ armour saves to boot enough to keep foes at bay or even destroy small, weak squads. They may not be as trademark as the crisis suits but no less effective in their own right!

Because crisis suits though can carry that weaponry which has the extra punch, plasma rifles for example, then they should always be chosen over the stealths to give you some low AP weaponry and tank busting ability. But one unit of bare bones stealths should be able to be squeezed in at around 1200 points and still have two or three crisis suits and a commander for the heavy fire support!

Against Eldar?

Gaurdian killers in the supreme, and with Eldar's short ranged weaponry these guys should be very safe against our elven foes. With basic toughness being 3 and most aspect saves being 4+ the stealth teams can have a field day picking off the typically small squads with concentrated fire. Operating skillfully from 20-24" away they will avoid virtually all return fire and stay hidden as well, a true must have unit that can harrass any eldar foe and with infiltration can threaten a flank, cut off squad or hiding farseer or independant character.

[size=14pt]TROOPS [/size] – The core of any army, especially tau. Just two options here to choose from, but both are worthy of whole essays of praise themselves!

[size=12pt]Fire Warriors ‘Shas’la’[/size]–

[size=9pt]A thousand fibres connect each of us with our fellow Tau amd along those fibres our deeds run as causes which come back to us as effects. [/size]

One unit is compulsory in any tau army, but you will be wanting many more when you have seen how sickeningly good these are in battle.
To start with – the configuration. 12 Man squads for the type of weaponry that these warriors carry is a godsend, squads should be taken in no less numbers. Furthermore, the Shas’ui upgrade is a no-brainer. The one thing that would be lacking a standard fire warrior is his questionable leadership, but this sorts that problem out in an instant. As for upgrades for this man then while it may seem tempting to include a markerlight and target lock to allow it to be fired properly, will mean this man costing 37 points alone. A hefty price to pay for a mere squad leader. And for a weapon that will compromise the whole mobility of the squad is a bad and expensive thing, don’t fall into that mistake. The Bonding upgrade allows the Fire Warriors to carry on fighting even in dire circumstances, this can be very useful, especially if your army doesn’t include an Ethereal. However it could be argued that at 50% strength the unit’s role is over as it can no-longer capture objectives and has a limited firepower. Thus, although I do value this upgrade a lot, I only include it if I have the spare points, important but not top of my list, like the Shas’ui upgrade.
The joy in the fire warrior is his weapon. Able of popping the front of rhino’s, and out-ranging any other standard troopers weapon by at least 6”. The pulse rifle is another godsend for this 10-point troop, coupled with their healthy armour save and squad size they are a huge problem to deal with. An interesting option is the pulse carbine upgrade, which is free, however there are two ways of using the fire warrior and the pulse carbine creates an ineffective go between.
The first is the static fire warrior. Deployed into or moving into cover with a nice view of the whole battlefield you can make use of your superior range to out gun your enemies and keep them at bay.
The second is to hop into a devilfish and make use of the rapid firing pulse rifle to burn holes into enemy squads from 12”, while still being safe from assault using the Fish of Fury tactics.
As you can see there is no need for an 18” weapon that can fire on the move, even if it can cause pinning this is too unlikely to waste a whole squad just for this hope.
It is almost impossible to abuse this squad on the battlefield, however used, but I recommend a mixture of both of these tactics myself to get a mixed and balanced army. Because fire warriors are cheap (720 points for 72?) then make the most of this and make them the unmoveable, rigid backbone of your army.

Against eldar?

Ahh the simple Fire Warrior, long may he live. Eldar rely on being close to you, and the fire warrior having a 30" range on his gaurdian frying rifle will go a long way to keeping Eldar at a comfortable arms reach. Again the high strength tau weapons coupled with the low toughness eldar is a nasty mix and any eldar player has good reason to fear your fire warrior teams. In those rock solid devilfishes they even have a protection and evacuation service from combat if that event should ever arise from a fast eldar army! The simple Fire Warrior is effective against most armies, and eldar is certainly no exception!
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Old 23 Mar 2005, 17:35   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: The Utterly Comprehensive guide to playing a Tau army I


[size=9pt]The eldar ranger was still alive as the Kroot broke her ribcage open. The Kroot leader devouring her heart was the last thing Laresh ever saw.[/size]

Whilst some disregard Kroot at first glance, either due to the lack of armour save or savage look, Kroot squads can be some of the most effective squads in your army and also dangerously underrated by your opponent.
At a closer look in your codex then you will see you get a whole lot for your 7pts, the strength and WS of a space marine and with three attacks on the charge per model? Suddenly they become interesting! Coupled with their fieldcraft ability and bolter like weapons in my opinion they are seriously underpriced for the sort of work they can carry out.
Firstly, configuration, always take in large mobs, 18 at a minimum but 20 is ideal so they won’t break as easily and also that squad can deliver 60 strength 4 attacks on the charge! The options for addition to a Kroot carnivore squad will be explained later, but you do have the option to have the squad led by a shaper. However hopefully you will see that this is a huge points sink for a simple troop commander upgrade. For the price of three more Kroot Carnivores buys you a model with 2 more wounds and 2 more profile attacks. For the price and still no power weapon or decent weapon upgrade (buying a tau pulse weapon is just making this unit cost more and more) then the shaper isn’t worth it. One of the beauties of this squad is their cheapness, don’t lose that! Another option with a shaper however is too then upgrade each Kroot to have armour save and an extra point of leadership. Again this just makes the Kroot squad loose their points effectiveness and really doesn’t buy your Kroot mob that much more survivability seeing as most of what hits them is going to penetrate the armour they can buy anyway!
So onto uses, this is where Kroot really show their worth. The numerous and versatile tasks they can perform and simply amazing for such an innocuous un-armoured troop you may need proof in testing to make yourself believe how effective they can be! I myself use them for –

Infiltrating (much more effective in 4th edition rules.) and either going straight into cover and taking that (preferably jungle) and warding foes out of the cover with a possible 60 attacks on the charge or 40 bolter strength shots. Also this allows them to get into combat on turn 1, the best units to target here are heavy weapons teams and to bog down enemy forces. Even their most elite units cannot survive 60 attacks on the charge from your Kroot mob, just make sure you have enough dice!

Also Kroot are a useful squad for infiltrating straight in to capture objectives, as much of your other forces may prefer to stay back. The Kroot can also work alongside tau units, providing protection from assault via shielding or a mean counter-attack (need I remind you how many attacks on the charge again!). Don’t underestimate their ranged fire power too, it can shred small or weakly armoured squads from an arms reach easily.

All in all a hugely versatile squad. Myself I always take a huge mob and infiltrate it to try and cause havoc. Don’t always expect it to stay to the end, in fact my Kroot hardly ever survive the course of the battle! The most important thing they do accomplish however is distracting and ambushing the enemy. Such a huge contrast to their tau allies they can be used very effectively to do such a job.

[size=14pt]FAST ATTACK[/size] – often the section of the tau army that is chosen least from, the units here are very specialised and if taken they must be used with skill for them to regain their points cost on the field generally.

[size=12pt]Kroot Hounds [/size] –

[size=9pt]They are fierce indeed these Kroot, and savage. I look upon them and tremble at their ferocity. I can only hope that when then enemy sees them they tremble as i do.[/size]

The models are frequently used to bump up numbers in the Kroot squads, however most players never use them in balk simply due to the fact that would cost to much to buy!
What they offer to the Kroot squad is cheapness (albeit one point less), however this shouldn’t really make much difference. They do have +1 initiative and a nice special rule allowing them to attack fleeing enemies. Despite this however they are only hounds, so lose the Kroot rifle. For me this is really not worth it, as I value the versatility of Kroot, and their superb (for their points) bolter like weapons are a major part of this. However as hounds cost so little and you have a few spare points consider adding a few in to boost up numbers, but try not to replace carnivores with hounds unless you are using your Kroot solely for getting into combat on turn 1 or 2.

[size=12pt]Gun Drones, ‘Kor’vesa’[/size] –

An altogether interesting unit which is, again pretty versatile like the Kroot. Myself I have never found a single use, which this unit can excel at, but it certainly can have its uses.
For 2 points more than a fire warrior it has better accuracy with its twin linked pulse carbines, the threat of pinning an enemy ever present, and the tau jetpack allowing it to do the familiar trick of hopping out from cover, shooting, and hopping back in.
The jetpack also allows for deep-striking, something I would consider only with a unit like this which I wouldn’t mind too much if it got destroyed in the process. Deep-striking gun drones can be useful to cause momentary havoc in enemy lines or to root out heavy weapons teams or tanks. Don’t forget that with an initiative of 4 they could be used to strike and then assault and tie up heavy weapons teams for a while, buying the rest of your army some time.
Apart from sniping rear armour these can be generally used as distraction and annoyance troops, luring the enemy into traps using their speed and for general harassment. More specific tactics will vary from opponent and player so the best way to decide if these work for you is a bit of testing.
They do have their disadvantages however, at less than 4 models strong their leadership will drop to this number as well, leaving them both vulnerable and virtually useless (if you do decide to take these then always take at the highest squad number). They have a low rate of fire and will find it hard to make a mark in power armour or have enough shots to mow down orks or tyranids. Finally they are not able to hold table quarters or capture objectives, meaning that the more points you spend on them in your army the less ‘game winning’ units you will have left. As I can find no specific use I like them for I do not take them, however in lists of over 1000points if a gun drone squadron is included and used well in battle. Either deep-striking or general harassment, it may win back its points cost with ease, but much depends on the skill of the commander and whether you know exactly what you are doing with them. In my opinion they are too expensive a unit just to include for the sake of it.

[size=12pt]Pathfinders, ‘Shas’la’-[/size]

[size=9pt]Imperial troops who fought in the Damocles Crusade described the signiture of the barely visible markerlight beams as the Valkyrie's Mark, because those it choose were soon numbered amoung the dead.[/size]

[size=10pt]A controversial unit in the tau army if there ever was one! I find that with Tau players that they usually have a love hate relationship with Pathfinders.
Firstly this unit will NOT be a cheap one, models cost 12pts a head and a devilfish must be taken for further points. Furthermore if you wish to take the mighty rail-rifle then that’s even more points still. Considering that the maximum squad size is just 8, and for the survivability of a humble fire warrior then just beware before you kit out a huge fire warrior squad in 1000 points games. Due to their high points cost I reserve them for 1500points or above myself, I find this is where they are at their most effective.
This is because their primary use is not as an offensive unit, but as a support one for the rest of your army. They are able to take the immensely powerful rail-rifle among their members. However it is a much disputed subject whether this is wasted on the marking duty of the squad as a whole, just too expensive for an already expensive job, or a one shot weapon wasted on a BS 3 model. If you are to take this upgrade then the squad almost acts as sniping one, but it will also draw much more fire now (a good thing if you want to use it as a distraction or bait) due to its supreme anti-marine capabilities.
When configuring this squad for battle then the shas’ui (and possibly bonding) upgrades are even more vital in a small but still fragile unit, the more time they spend safely inside a Devilfish the less time they spend making up their points. However a well-positioned squad can easily do just this. Firstly the pre-game move allows the squad to be deployed into cover or a superior tactical position waiting to snipe or aid your armies big guns. You may decide to drop the devilfish here or keep it to whisk away your pathfinders from danger and pick a new sniping spot. Because the pathfinders must always be still be move I prefer the former option and leave them with a great range of vision for the whole battle in the opening.
The final section left to talk about Pathfinders is most obviously – what do you hit with markerlights? You may have definite targets before the battle, a character or a tank that you want long range railgun or seeker missile fire to take care of. To get rid of the enemy’s long range fire support from the start can be a great asset so marking up railguns to do the job for you is never a bad idea. Even though both carriers of them have BS4 or better accuracy you are unlikely to have enough to be able to rely on them doing the job so quickly on their own. After you have taken out the bog obvious targets the markerlights are still very useful! I tend not to have specific purposes for the next round of marking but I look to see how the battle is unfolding and look to see who needs support where etc. so as to build up a picture of who could benefit most. Often it is the units firing into cover, as markerlights ignore cover saves marking up battlesuits or railgun submunitions especially negates a stealthy group of cover hugging foes or a large guardian squad under a warlock’s concealment.
As the markerlight allows one weapon to become more accurate it is often better to use it on multi-shot weapons, for example the ion cannon of a hammerhead, or my favourite – stealth suits! In my 8 man pathfinder team I will get on average 4 hits per round, so in a typical stealth team that is going to make a large difference. Even more so when firing at lightly armoured foe and into cover!
So markerlights can be of use almost anywhere, I regard a squad of pathfinders as being a very helpful and versatile support squad, able of changing a passage of play for any tau army. Definitely worth a look in if points allow, and even more so if playing a Cityfight or on a table with heaps of cover! [/size]

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Old 27 Mar 2005, 17:19   #3 (permalink)
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[size=14pt]HEAVY SUPPORT[/size] – [size=10pt]perhaps the most exciting section of a typical shooty army like tau, the big guns. However although this may be where all the railguns come from most tau armies will rely more on their fire warriors and elite battlesuits to do most of the ground work.[/size]

[size=12pt]Krootox – [/size]

[size=9pt]Krootox are not aggressive creatures as a rule, but should an enemy attack their unit, they will fight ferociously to defend those they see as their herd brothers.[/size]

[size=10pt]The Krootox is probably the most under-used unit in every single tau army I have ever seen, that is to say I have never seen one included!
This is for several reasons I will explain for you. At first glance at its stats it is actually not bad in close combat, in fact it does look pretty nice alongside 20 or so Kroot carnivores. However its probability of reaching enemy lines to do some damage are done a serious blow, as a Kroot carnivore squad with Krootox attached may not infiltrate. So if combat usefulness isn’t going to be the Krootox’s primary task then what is? It’s main weapon has the same stats as a missile pod but with a longer range. However it is only a one shot weapon at BS 3 if it wants to act as a long range tank hunter, and if it moves that range is severely diminished to rapid fire range. Finally the Krootox is very unreliable for its 50-point investment. It can be instant killed by anything strength 6 or above, and retrains the same armour save as the Kroot it is with, hence making those 50 points you shelled out for it a somewhat risky investment.
To conclude the Krootox will almost never be a worthwhile investment to a Tau army and it shows in player’s army lists. Heavy Support choices are much more wise to go to the railgun toting Hammerhead or Broadsides in favour of the lumbering monsters of Pech.[/size]

[size=12pt]Hammerhead Gunship – [/size]

[size=9pt]And when they did shoot... Emporer's mercy! Their guns punched through our armour like it was paper. All i could see were trails of fire where the projectiles had ignited the air.[/size]

A Hammerhead Gunship is a fearsome sight indeed for an enemy player. Nicknamed ‘Ion’ and ‘Rail’ ‘heads’ for their primary armament it has both supreme survivability for a skimmer and a mean punch back.
Firstly there are many defensive upgrades that can be taken for a Hammerhead to increase its survivability. Firstly the ever present decoy launchers which should be on any tau skimmer with no excuses! They almost remove the bad sides of being a skimmer (meaning no landing gear need be taken with this very cheap upgrade) and you will really regret not taking them every time you roll a 5 on the glancing hits table against your shiny new Hammerhead! Secondly if you play on big tables than a disruption pod may be for you. If this HH is going to sit back and ‘snipe’ with its main weapon then it can be very useful to make use of your superior range over common tank hunting weapons on a long board. That is to say the 6"”you take off the range of lascannons, missile launchers, bright and dark lances. Can give you that extra turn to stay free of AT fire and remove the threat completely. I regard this, as somewhat of a luxury, but against the right opponent (with the right weapons) this can be very annoying for them!
As for the offensive the Multi-tracker upgrade springs out at me as very useful indeed. Not only do we have a skimmer with front armour 13, it can now be able move 12” and fire its main weapon. Seeing as the most likely use for this tank is to stay back and provide long range support, this upgrade really proves its worth. You can not only scoot further out of travel, or move to get into LoS (line of sight) with a new target, but you get to shoot with your mighty railgun or ion cannon too!
So now just for the weapons mounted on your Gunship! This clearly depends on the amount and type of weapons in the rest of your army and who your opponent is. However the railgun is effective against all foes. With a solid shot it is by far the best tank-killing weapon in the tau army, and with the Hammerheads automatically better BS the fact it is only one shot is not usually a problem. Furthermore, when all armoured targets are gone, or if there weren’t any to begin with then there is another devastating side to the railgun as well. The submuntitions round that uses the large blast template but yet does not scatter is awesome against power armour and 4+ and more badly armoured opponents. It is the only weapon in the tau arsenal that uses a blast or large blast template, and a Tau army above 500 points without one is usually lacking in a vital component! The ion cannon may seem a better choice versus power armour, but there is really no substitute for a railgun and points should be made way for this. On average the submuntitions blast of a railgun will kill more marines than an ion cannon and also do better versus scouts. If you have 3 Hammerheads then one could be made into an ‘Ion head’ if you are playing power armour and you would still have the might of the railgun, but the Hammerhead is truly a totally different tank with a change of primary weapon.
The secondary weapons option isn’t so obvious in my opinion. On one hand you have the cheap burst cannons, capable of pumping out 6 pulse shots at BS 4, however with their range they may not get any use if the Hammerhead is accustomed to stay back and use its primary weapon. However it does provide a cheaper Hammerhead and the option to speed up close to a squad and devastate it with a submunitions blast and twin burst cannons. For 10 points more you get a Smart Missile System, a very useful weapon in its own right, therefore a target lock can be useful here to get the most out of both weapons at the same time (versus different targets). It allows a longer range from the Hammerhead and the fact that the Gunship not longer has to be in line of sight to engage its enemies is a scary thought, especially when cityfighting.
There are numerous different ways of configuring a Hammerhead but when armed with a railgun there is almost nothing it cannot do still for a modest price. Vehicles, power armour and hordes have right to be scared of the multiple purpose tau skimmer and it can certainly take a good deal of damage in return. The Hammerhead can be used from both long and short distances and configured to suit both, never forget it is a fast scoring unit too and can be used admirably to accompany and support ‘Fish of fury Squadrons’ (mounted fire warriors deploying in rapid fire range of foes).

[size=12pt]Broadside Suits, ‘Shas’ui’ – [/size]

[size=9pt]They got ded big shooty guns dat'll kill tons of boyz, but if yer can get near em den you've got a chance. Just make sure you bring loads of boyz, coz you ain't gonna have a whole lot left when you get close enough to crump em. [/size]

Each broadside battlesuit taken has mounted upon it an accurate railgun and spells death to any armoured foe. Due to the fact it is not able to fire submunition rounds its purpose stays solely as a tank and character killer.
Broadside squads must remain stationary to fire any of their weapons, thus good deployment and often a first turn move are essential to give them a clean line of fire for the whole battle. Furthermore it is also a unit which can get very expensive very quickly. There is only one hard-point to fill, but already the Suit is priced at 70 points. With no invulnerable save a shield generator is useful if very expensive for a whole squad to have, but then this would be neglecting the impressive Smart Missile System that each broadside carries.
While uses are obvious and easy, configuration is somewhat of a problem, both cost and survivability both must be considered. An easy solution is too simply not take broadsides due to the problem they do have, I prefer a Hammerhead Gunship any day for their extra mobility and survivability. However a good army can always make room for some broadsides. The easiest way to overcome the survivability is to deploy into cover or take a turn of moving to get there in the first place. I take multi-trackers always for the hard points, they are the cheapest options and allow me the get the most shots out of each broadside. As I use them in cover or with a narrow alley of fire then the Smart Missile System can sometimes become more useful than the railguns! I also find that taking monats with broadsides works a treat too! (One man teams). Not only will they never be broken, but there is no need for target locks and enemies will have to split their fire if you have two monats as opposed to a two man squad (never a good number for squads anyway!).
So if you do decide that the opponent has enough armour or targets that warrant solid shot railguns (Wraithlords, talos’ etc.) then use efficiently and kit out sensibly. For me it is too much to put all my big guns on static suits vulnerable to light weapons fire and assault, so I prefer the Hammerhead, but against certain opponents then the inclusion of a larger number of more accurate railguns will never go amiss!
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