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Building A Comptetitive 5th Edition Tau List (Part 1)
Old 07 Nov 2008, 06:39   #1 (permalink)
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Fort Collins Colorado
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Default Building A Comptetitive 5th Edition Tau List (Part 1)

This article details the process that I went through designing a, hopefully, competitive 5th Edition list for my Tau. I've divided it into two parts so it's easier for people to divide into more manageable reading chunks. Part one analyzes what I suspect the Top-tier tournament armies will be, and drafts a list to handle those threats. Part two will focus on general as well as mission specific strategy and tactics.

Building a 5th Edition Tau List

This article originally started out as me trying to design a competitive 5th Edition list, but in writing out the listís strategy and justifying unit selections I found I had something resembling a tactica more than a list.

This is the general list that I will be using for at least a while in 5th once I can get the models together. Itís meant to be a tournament list that must compete with the nastiest that every other codex can throw out. Itís hardly the only way to make a competitive 5th Edition list, but I think there are some aspects and tactics that it uses that any Tau list can take advantage of.

What do I Need to Kill?

What are the most powerful armies going to be in 5th Edition? These are just preliminary guesses. There are probably some big things Iíve missed.

Mechanized Eldar is greatly weakened, though retooled variants favoring Wave Serpents and more Troops will likely still be present. I think balanced Iyanden lists that try to dominate the board with a Wraithwall backed up by some Aspect Warriors for counter-assault, Wraithlords for long range firepower, and a few fast scoring units is going are going to emerge as the main Eldar powerhouse.

Nidzilla took a hit because the Carnifexes canít claim objectives anymore, but benefit a lot from run. I think lists with more Genestealers to claim objectives are still going to be very powerful.

I have no experience fighting against Chaos Daemons, but Iíve got a general idea of how they work based on what Iíve read. I think very assault heavy lists backed up with a few Tzeentch units for anti-tank as well as Daemon-zilla lists are going to be very popular. This is the army I know least about though.

I think Chaos is going to function about the same as it did in 4th. Plague Marines, Lash of Submission, and Obliterators are all still quite effective. Assault troops like Berserkers have improved. I think lists based around hordes of cult troops mounted in rhinos or running to get close to the enemy will be quite powerful.

From a Tau perspective the Imperial Guard havenít changed much. The new rules change the way they must respond to assault, something we donít care too much about. The new vehicle and cover rules may cause an increase in mechanized armies though. I lot could change with their rumored new codex though.

Grey Knights are still pretty pitiful at a competitive level for the most part, but Sisters have a lot of potential. Heavily mechanized lists that max out on Sisters are going to be fierce. Itís going to take a lot to move that many power armored bodies off an objective, and smoking rhinos are going to put meltas and flamers in your face with alarming speed and reliability.

Orks are a top contender. They have good speed for capturing objectives and great resiliency in numbers for holding them. Any competitive list needs a way to keep 160+ orks from overrunning them, so that means lots of dakka.

Marines are going to be nasty. They will have access to a lot of fast assaulters as well as strong shooting support. Their biggest strength is going to be the sheer number of marines that people will be fielding. I havenít studied the new Marines down to the smallest detail yet, but my guess is that close quarters lists are going to be very popular. A hybrid is also quite possible as people split their Tac Squads in half to snipe you with a lascannon while charging a flamer at you. Salamanders in drop pods or rhinos will be fierce. Raven Guard and White Scars both can close with terrifying speed.

Necrons are hurting right now. Their efficiency against tanks dropped through the basement. They can be effective against non-mechanized Tau (which Iím going to be advocating) but they are weak against everything else, so I donít expect to see much of them in the tournament scene.

Dark Eldar skimmers are better defensively now, and they have lightning fast objective claiming ability. If you play objectives against them try to put them out in the open and get the second turn. Dark Eldar lists are still as rare as ever, though this might change when their rumored codex arrives.

The key traits that I see emerging that we must counter as Tau are: hordes of expendable troops from Daemons, Guard, and Orks, lots of monstrous creatures/high toughness troops from Nids, Eldar, and Daemons. Fast armored assaulters, from Marines, and masses of power armored bodies boltering you to death from Marines, Chaos, and Sisters. This means a list needs lots of high strength and low AP for the big stuff, and lots of pure dakka for the hordes. What do we not especially need? Middle strength and AP firepower isnít anywhere near as vital as it was in 4th. In 4th we had to spam missile pods to have a chance of taking down a mechanized Eldar list, but that list has lost a lot of its power. I loved my Deathrains, but I wonít be fielding them for a while. They can pop the rhinos in a mechanized list, but so can the railguns and plasma weíre bringing to stop the monstrous creatures.

Building the List

Iím going to show the list before moving onto specific tactics because it is much easier to explain the tactics with a specific list to refer to.


Shasíel w/ Missile Pod, Airburst Frag, Positional Relay, HW Multi-Tracker
107 pts

10x Fire Warriors
-Shasíui w/ bonding knife
115 pts

10x Fire Warriors
-Shasíui w/ bonding knife
115 pts

12x Fire Warriors
-Shasíui w/ bonding knife
-Devilfish w/ Disruption pod
220 pts

10 Kroot w/ 9 Kroot Hounds
124 pts

10 Kroot
70 pts

Fast Attack
8 Pathfinders
-Devilfish w/ Disruption pod
191 pts

8 Pathfinders
-Devilfish w/ Disruption pod
191 pts

Heavy Support
3 Broadsides w/ twin plasma, multi-tracker
-team leader w/ target lock, 2x shield drones
295 pts

2 Broadsides w/ A.S.S.
-team leader w/ twin plasma, HW multi-tracker, 2x shield drones
210 pts

2 Broadsides w/ A.S.S.
-team leader w/ twin plasma, HW multi-tracker, 2x shield drones
210 pts

Total: 1848

Now the average personís first thought is probably going to be ďWow, thatís a lot of broadsidesĒ. I think broadsides are one of the best Tau units in the new edition. The list can be divided into several overlapping categories: Big Guns, Dakka, and Sneaky.

All those broadsides obviously fill the Big Guns role, often supported by the Pathfinders. They kill any monstrous creatures or tanks. They also deal with fast assaulters like Shrike, Honor Guard, or Death Company. These units are very pricy and well armored, so unloading with railguns and plasma is worthwhile.

The Fire Warriors, Kroot, Shasíel, and Pathfinders fill the Dakka role. Between them I think I stand a decent chance of sufficiently thinning down an Ork horde. Killing off Daemons will be tougher because of the limited time to shoot, so Iíll have to deploy screening units to take the first charge to give me an extra round.

Stealthy can include virtually every unit in the army except the big plasmasides squad depending on where on the scale of Sneaky vs. Firebase I am. My most common Sneaky units will be the Shasíel and the Kroot. The Elís Positional Relay sets up the entire Sneaky half of the army. How sneaky I play depends on the mission.

A variant of this list that I'm considering and planning to test replaces one of the mobile Broadside teams with a Railhead and some more Kroot. That would give me a bit more mobility and anti-horde, but would harm my anti-tank and monstrous creature firepower.

Part Two will be its own post coming within a few days.
When you wish upon a star, your wish may come true. Unless that star is a meteorite hurtling towards the earth. In that case you're just screwed; unless you wished for death by meteorite.
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