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Assembling a good value Tau army
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Old 16 Mar 2008, 05:19   #1 (permalink)
Kroot Warrior
 
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Default Assembling a good value Tau army

Hello all, this is my first post here. I have some Tau questions, and as I'm a total newb to 40k (I'm a longtime Blood Bowler), I thought I'd ask those who know best. I hope this doesn't stray too much into the realm of Army Lists, which I don't want to get into specifics about beyond general force composition (i.e. Models to have) - I'm still getting to grips with the rules and Tau Codex.

Ok, on with the query: - I've taken an interest in assembling a Tau army, and have a number of considerations:
  • Plenty of variety - It would be nice to represent as many different unit types as possible. I've taken note of the excellent ideas about using magnets to make weapons and other accessories interchangeable.
  • Must be viable - while it won't likely be used for gaming, I'd like it to be viable for play should the opportunity arise, giving me options for small-scale games.
  • Keep the cost down - it's unlikely this army will be used for gaming any time soon, it's mostly for the collecting, modelling and painting. Therefore,
    a) I'm not interested in coughing for the overpriced metal miniatures in the GW range - £7 for the (in size) unremarkable Ethereal models is unjustifiable.
    b) I'm averse to models which present a poor points/£ ratio - generally, these are the metal models, but there are other units too. Chief among them are the Broadsides and Commander Crisis suits; in practice, the Broadsides work out as more money than a Hammerhead for less points (I think) in the game, and without looking anything like as cool! Both also cost over twice as much as a regular Crisis suit by my calculations (not just straight GW pricing, please note).

In regards to the costs, I've found that some independent sellers do the Battleforce (BF), Megaforce (MF), Armored Interdiction Force (AIF) and Rapid Insertion Force (RIF) for reasonable prices. They also split these boxes and sell the sprues; attractive, for instance, to those uninterested in 9 Crisis suits. I haven't mentioned Gun Drones, because there seems to be a few tucked away on many sprues, and they are dirt cheap to buy extra.

I think my initial thoughts are to spend not much more than what it would cost to buy a Megaforce at most.

The choices are thus:

1 x Megaforce (+ Crisis suit)
Pros:
- It certainly covers the requirement for variety.
Cons:
- It's maybe a little light on Crisis suits, which from what I've gathered are a core component of a Tau Army. Fortunately, I can pick up a few sprues extra as mentioned above for much less than the boxed set value (they work out at around £4), but must take care not to go massively over-budget and overwhelm myself with models.
- It's got only one Markerlight represented; perhaps converting some of the Fire Warriors to Pathfinders would solve this? Metal Pathfinders are eliminated by their cost.
- Its missing the Skyray, which is expensive to get on it's own, instead of with the AIF.

1 x Battleforce + Armored Interdiction Force (+ Crisis Suits)
The BF + AIF costs £5 more than the MF
Pros:
- Plenty of tanks, including a Skyray.
- Still plenty of troops, and the Kroot get a look in.
Cons:
- Still light on Crisis Suits, but cheap to buy as extra sprues
- no Piranhas (I'm unsure of their in-game usefulness, but they look good) - their loss means mainly a gain of two tanks.
- Possibly the most expensive option, but with enough suits, probably the most complete.
- I'm not sure about the Markerlight options, aside from the Skyray, and don't have sufficient FWs to convert them to PFs.

1 x Battleforce + 2 Crisis Suits + 1 Skyray
A more modest list, costing £8 less than the MF, utilising the versatility of the Skyray kit to convert to a Hammerhead or Devilfish, and convert the Devilfish to a Hammerhead (presuming I can DIY a targetter).
Pros:
- Still sufficient variety.
- A less daunting pile of models to begin with.
Cons:
- Limited options for gaming.
- Probably not such great value-for-money.

2 x Battleforces (+ Crisis suit)
2 BF's cost £5 more than the MF
Pros:
- LOTS of troops
- an extra Stealth team too
Cons:
- Lacking in heavy tanks
- Joint most expensive option

Notes:
I thought I had more options, but writing these down has highlighted to me the value of all the boxed kits - only the extra Crisis suit sprues, Stealth teams and Gun drones (i.e. the broken-up contents of the RIF box) are not significantly more expensive bought separately.
The trick is to get the bulk of the models in one go, to save P&P. I can add to any of these options as I go - I'm scouring eBay for models to add some 'jam' to the 'bread and butter' of the boxed sets.
I've also found some cheap plastic non-GW miniatures I can use for a Human Auxiliary unit - they don't cost much (20 Euro for 80, 40 from each of two differently styled factions, the other of which could make the beginnings of an opposing Imperial Guard army), and could be a useful supply of bits.

So now, I ask for commentary - am I being too ambitious? Should I content myself only with 1 x BF to get started? Am I being too limited by not considering Broadsides or metal miniatures? Should I scavenge for an Ethereal on eBay (advice I've seen suggests not to bother), or stick a plastic Tau head on a wizard model's body? Do I need more Fire Warriors to really make it look the part, as well as (potentially) play better? Are there any obvious holes that would need filling to conform to Force organisation Charts or particular points totals for play?

Btw, Current exchange rate is roughly $2 = £1 = 1.33 Euro
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Old 16 Mar 2008, 09:57   #2 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default Re: Assembling a good value Tau army

You've pretty much summed all up your starting options pretty damn well there.
What you get really depends on the style of army you want. As it stands there are now 4 styles of Tau army.

Static Tau: Few Vehicles or suits, if any (barring the mandatory commander). Like to sit back in their deployment zone and blast the living daylights out of anything that comes into range. Totally smashed by dedicated assault troops.

Hybrid Tau: A good mix of static elements plus vehicles and suits. Can be categorised as Hybrid-Static Focus, Hybrid-Mech Focus or Hybrid-Suit Focus

Mobile Infantry: An interesting off-shoot of Hybrid-Static focus which gives all units the ability to move and fire, or a transport vehicle. Usually heavy on carbine squads, and will likely include an Ethereal or Shadowsun for Ld boosts.

Mech Tau: Arguably the best kind of Tau. Usually has at least 4 tanks, 2 x Devilfish and 2 x Hammerheads/Sky Rays. May swap tanks for having large amounts battlesuits. Most, if not all, units are able to move 12" a turn.

Units:
Crisis Teams are always fun to have, but are not essential if other units or vehicles can take up the slack from their specialisation.
Piranhas are nifty little things, but have poor survivability at times.

If you want the maximum variety in model choice for your army, go with the Megaforce Suit.
If you want something that can quickly make a good Mech Army, with decent variety, go for the Battleforce + AIF.
Piranhas are not too expensive on their own, so if you only want one to try out with, it's not that big.
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Old 16 Mar 2008, 19:10   #3 (permalink)
Kroot Warrior
 
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Default Re: Assembling a good value Tau army

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravager Zero
If you want the maximum variety in model choice for your army, go with the Megaforce Suit.
If you want something that can quickly make a good Mech Army, with decent variety, go for the Battleforce + AIF.
Piranhas are not too expensive on their own, so if you only want one to try out with, it's not that big.

Thanks for your analysis

It does appear I've chosen something along the lines of a Mech or Mech Hybrid variant; favouring Hammerheads (in terms of models, adaptibility, points and monetary cost) over Broadsides appears to have ensured that.

The list with 2 x BFs is a good basis for a Static or Mobile Infantry army, but still has some way to go, and requires additional less cost-effecive models.

It appears my options are:

1 x Megaforce (+ Crisis suit)
1 x Battleforce + Armored Interdiction Force (+ Crisis Suits) - with the option of holding fire on the AIF until I complete the BF.

They're both good lists - I'm having trouble splitting them.

From the POV of a Mech army, the former has more Fire Warriors than Devilfish to put them in, but some could be converted to Pathfinders (who get the 'fish). The 3 Piranhas give it a fast attack force flavour.
The latter has plenty of transport/tank options - (almost) any combination of 4 x Devilfish, 3 x Hammerheads and 1 x Skyray (from a max of 4 chassis), has the Kroot for variety and attack from advanced positions of cover (the models aren't objectionable either), though perhaps doesn't have enough for a full 20 in a unit, and has only a single unit of Fire Warriors - which may not be an issue for a Mech army anyway.

The option of Human Auxiliaries is more an excuse to do a converted, fluffy unit than to add anything serious to the army list. They aren't kidding when they call lasguns flashlights...I'll have to look up rules to see if I could also use a Human infantry force backed up by Tau tanks (essentially a Gue'vesa army), for added variety.

Is there a good trading post for bits swapping amongst the 40k community? I'm sure some folks buy boxed sets just to get at part of the contents, and swap the rest. Sticking the remainder on evilbay is not a preferred option - those fees are a killer. Leftover sprue parts have all sorts of uses too.
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Old 17 Mar 2008, 05:18   #4 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default Re: Assembling a good value Tau army

Given your preference for Mech I would heartily Recommend the BF +AIF (but maybe wait on the AIF till you finish the battleforce).
This way you have (My army suggestion) two Devilfish (or Warfish) with 6 FW's in each, 2 Hammerheads/Hammerhead+Sky Ray for your primary mobile element.

The one battlesuit can serve as your commander. There is no actual difference between a normal suit and commander suit barring the improved statline. You could always do a conversion to make him stand out more if you really wanted.

The stealthsuits can serve as both a mobile element or a deployment focus/anchor. They have the speed (can move 12" per turn, 6" movement, 6" jetpack assault) to be fully mobile. They can, on the other hand, infiltrate or deepstrike and hold a quarter or location quite well in a small game.

The Kroot unit is more than enough for a starter. The general idea with Kroot is to either max out everything, or take a bare minimum squad. The strategy with both is much the same. Infiltrate into hard cover, preferably woods/jungle/forest to get a 4+ cover save, and sit there blasting away. Woe betide anyone that attacks you without plasma grenades.

Gue'vesa are semi-legal (depending on who you play with), but you can't make an army out of them. It's easier to do Tau aligned/allied Imperial Guard. They do, as you say, offer some nice fluff and converting opportunities.

There is a trading board, but it is only open to members who have been active and helpful for a little while at least. If you want more info on that PM a Gmod or Admin.
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Originally Posted by CmdrBonesaw
"Drop the shovel, and stand back from the keyboard!"


We have done the impossible... and that makes us mighty.
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Old 17 Mar 2008, 12:04   #5 (permalink)
Kroot Warrior
 
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Default Re: Assembling a good value Tau army

Excellent, that's helped a lot, thanks.

I was checking up on the difference between the regular and commander XV8 kits last night - I already knew the former would do for HQ. It's a substantial price difference for a few bits of metal and some alt. heads. Thanks to the modular nature of a (magnetised) Crisis suit, I can always add e.g. a CIB to the model later, when I acquire one somewhere.

I think I was coming around to the idea of the BF + AIF last night, but it's nice to have affirmation from someone with experience - agreed about holding back on the AIF, I don't want to bury myself in models! I think I can save on the extra P&P incurred with some sharp-eyed auction sniping

Thanks for letting me know about the trading board. I'll follow that up once I've earned some stripes here.

I guess I can move on to making detailed Army Lists now I know what I'll be going for. I'm presuming the BF + AIF would amount to a force of 1000 to 1500 pts.

One last thing:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravager Zero
Gue'vesa are semi-legal (depending on who you play with), but you can't make an army out of them. It's easier to do Tau aligned/allied Imperial Guard. They do, as you say, offer some nice fluff and converting opportunities.
Where do I look for the rules on Allied forces? I don't have the main rulebook or codex on me right now.
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Old 17 Mar 2008, 12:21   #6 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default Re: Assembling a good value Tau army

http://us.games-workshop.com/games/4...uxiliaries.htm <– Gue'vesa rules.

The only 'legal' allied forces (or tournament legal at any rate) are Kroot and Vespid.

Points wise, the BF should get you a decent 750-800 point force. Anymore and you're taking too much wargear on your guys.
AIF makes 250, just off the hulls, should total around 325-420 after weapons and kit, can do a bit more with 'non-essential' wargear.

All up the BF and AIF should give you a 1000 point force with options, or a decent 1500 point army on its own.

I'm glad to have helped you.

Some other sites you might want to check out
http://www.eastern-empire.com/ <– by Sebastian Stuart aka Shas'el Tael, a well respected and very skilled converter both here and on ATT.
http://advancedtautactica.com/viewforum.php?f=21 <– ATT modeling section. (I don't actually have an account there)

Also, if you're looking for unique conversion ideas, browse/search the hobby boards for some of my more recent stuff.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CmdrBonesaw
"Drop the shovel, and stand back from the keyboard!"


We have done the impossible... and that makes us mighty.
Firefly is pretty much made of Awesome, Funny, and Aww. Sometimes simultaneously. We'd better stop before we quote the entire script.
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Old 17 Mar 2008, 13:45   #7 (permalink)
Kroot Warrior
 
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Default Re: Assembling a good value Tau army

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravager Zero
http://us.games-workshop.com/games/4...uxiliaries.htm <– Gue'vesa rules.

The only 'legal' allied forces (or tournament legal at any rate) are Kroot and Vespid.
Actually, when I asked about Allies, I was thinking of something more like this (combined forces from different codices, in this case Imperial Guard and Tau): http://us.games-workshop.com/games/4...s/allies/4.htm

I understand this is for Apocalypse, which is a scale I have inadequate interest (or cash) to dabble in. I'm unsure if any such system exists for regular 40k.

Those links are great, btw.
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Old 17 Mar 2008, 22:50   #8 (permalink)
Shas'Saal
 
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Default Re: Assembling a good value Tau army

I would agree with the BF + AIF package. You have the option for 4 vehicles total; up to 4 devilfish, up to 2 hammerheads and up to 1 Hammerhead. Add some magnets to the turrets and nose guns and you could change your force to match what you need at any given moment. Also, consider checking the War Store (20%) or Gorrilla Tactics Gamers Union (At least 30%, recieved 50% off of my Land Raider Crusader!)for a nice discount off of new models. (GTGU is kind of a gamble. Some people don't like them, but I've had good experiences with them, as well as the War Store). I've actually found models from these two sights tend to be cheaper then those you can find on eBay. Plus, they're new, so you don't have to worry about getting crappy old and abused models.
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Old 19 Mar 2008, 01:12   #9 (permalink)
Kroot Warrior
 
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Default Re: Assembling a good value Tau army

War Store and GTGU are US based, from what I can see. I'm in the UK, and have found some reasonably priced independents with web stores and eBay presences. Importing from the US can get very expensive, and I wouldn't be protected by the Sale of Goods Act.

The store I'm primarily watching is Buy for Less Online, but must check their webstore's P&P; they promise 1st class post for orders under 2kg - anything over, and they use a courier (City Link) that absolutely sticks the boot into customers from outlying UK regions as far as surcharges go (at least they do with computer hardware retailers which use them - I've seen surcharges as high as £19 - yes, $38! for crossing the Irish sea, and with regular delivery tacked on too!).
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Old 27 Mar 2008, 20:18   #10 (permalink)
Kroot Warrior
 
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Default Re: Assembling a good value Tau army

I ordered a Battleforce to start with from one eBay merchant for £38 delivered, then a few days later discovered Buy for Less were out of Armoured Interdiction Forces - it seems to be gone for good, and the Rapid Insertion Force is going the same way. I quickly snapped up an AIF kit from another eBay merchant for £42.50, a few pounds more than I'd originally hoped for, but that serves me right for dragging my heels. I should have just bought the lot in one go from Buy for Less as I had intended.

More Crisis suits, Firewarriors and Piranhas can wait - I may buy some sprues with a Battle for Skull Pass set (I have a long neglected Dwarf army I've decided I also want to complete) later, if I don't just buy a Megaforce and offload what I don't need - the resale value of the Piranhas alone makes it a tempting buy over the Battleforce.

The lesson - this business of buying units gradually and building up doesn't actually stack up, IMHO. If you can afford it, buy everything you could possibly need in boxed sets, and you can always sell what you don't want on eBay later. If you dither, as I did, there's every chance you'll get walloped by a price hike or discontinuation. Of course, there's the daunting task of a big pile of plastic; my theory is that if it is parcelled out into small, manageable sections/units, and each one is worked on to completion before the next one is even taken out of the box, it should be manageable.
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