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Ninja Tau Tactics
Old 16 Nov 2008, 01:18   #1 (permalink)
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Default Ninja Tau Tactics

5th ed has brought many changes to Tau lists – Some Good – Some Bad. But it has also made some very different play styles open up for us – we had Static Tau, Mech Tau, Ravager Zero’s Agro Tau – Now we have NINJA TAU, making full use of the reserve rules and the many different types of unit we have that can Deepstrike, Infiltrate, Outflank, Scout and backed up by Heavy Support (which thanks to 5th ed can also take advantage of the reserve rules).

So first – the Units and how they fit into the Ninja Tau set up.

Available Ninja Tau units.


Shas’o and Shas’el - Can Deepstrike, and carry a variety of weapon load outs. Can also carry the Positional Relay – one of the most effective pieces of War gear for the Ninja Tau layout.

XV8 Bodyguards – Can Deepstrike, and have access to special issue war gear, can also carry the Positional Relay if needed.


– Can outflank/infiltrate. A very good unit for the Ninja Tau set up, the most important reason for this is they are a scoring troop’s choice. They can also cause massive amounts of damage/trouble coming on from outflank. Taking objectives, rapid firing, assaulting (even capable of taking out rear AV10 tanks in CC, especially if the vehicle has not moved).

Kroot Hounds – Part of the unit above, but with I5 really upgrade the Kroots assault abilities. I have found the most effective configuration to be 10/15 Kroot and 10 Kroot Hounds.


XV8 Crisis Suits
– Can Deepstrike. – For all the reasons we already know and love XV8’s for. The Fusion blaster is very effective deep striking behind vehicles, as is the MP for low AV targets. The TL flamer is now very effective dropping in against infantry (especially light/horde infantry). The other weapons load outs retain there normal abilities. Can now be equipped with Marker Drones (gaining the relentless rule). Very useful for supporting further fire on the marked unit or launching seeker missiles.

XV25 Stealth Suits – Infiltrate/Outflank/Deepstrike. A very useful Ninja Tau unit – they are capable of using all 3 tactics which lends versatility. The stealth field protects against return fire (which given your ability with Ninja Tau to choose there entry point should protect against most return fire). Has access to various support systems and 1 in 3 can take a Fusion Blaster (good anti vehicle/tank).

Fast Attack.

Gun Drones
– can Deepstrike. Useful unit to lend fire support, hold up enemy units, potentially pin infantry.

Pathfinders – can Scout/Outflank. A very very useful Ninja Tau Unit for 2 reasons 1. When Outflanking they can do so in a Devilfish (often a good idea to upgrade to a Warfish) which adds Armoured Support to your outflanking forces. 2. The Pathfinder Fish gives a reroll on the scatter dice to all your Deep striking Units in LOS – given that a large proportion of your army may be coming in to play this way – this is invaluable.

Vespid – can Deepstrike (as Jump Infantry). Often a maligned and underused Tau choice (for good reason). But can do a good job in a Ninja Tau army, in support of your other units. For example a squad DS’ing next to a unit of marines and firing before your Outflanking Kroot assault them, they wont anhilate the unit (unless it’s a small combat squad) but they will take 2/3 down which will lessen the Marines ability to take on your Kroot. More survivable with 5th ed cover saves and fleet of wing Jump Infantry, so good for contesting objectives.

Other Units/Heavy Support.

Can not use any of the battlefield abilities that make Ninja Tau possible – But thanks to 5th Ed can be held in Table Edge reserve.

Fire Warriors
– Table Edge Reserve. You have to take at least 1 Unit and would recommend deploying them in a Devilfish for maximum manuvrebility when they come into play.

– Table Edge Reserve. – Fast Vehicle, can get to the action quickly. Useful for contesting objectives.

Hammerheads - Table Edge Reserve – (Rail)72 inch range Gun – very useful. Can drive happily onto the table and pop Tanks/Drop pods with ease.

- - Table Edge Reserve – Always give them A.S.S and they can fulfil the same mobile Job as the HH – Make sure to bring them on a long way from the enemy as they are not as mobile.

Units Unsuitable for Ninja Tau.

– Table Edge Reserve. Good support unit can pop light vehicles, carries Seekers. Not that useful because its Marker lights are fairly short range, and you are unlikely to have much Marker light Support in the rest of your Army.

Ethereal – Fairly useless in any army load out.

Sniper Drones – Mainly static. – Bad reserve unit because they cannot fire the turn they come in. Could be worked into the list as bait if deployed at start. But generally not recommended.
So in summation, out of the 16 available Tau Units we have 6 viable Deep strikers. 3 Out flankers, 2 Infiltrators and 1 Scout. (Obviously with some of those units’ abilities doubling up). And 4 Units as Viable Table Edge Reserves. Only 3 Units (one of those being the Ethereal) would be inadvisable for the List.

Battlefield Role.

So how do we make these units work? – Ninja Tau have the ability to hold themselves in reserve and then react rapidly to the enemy. Attacking from unexpected Locations – Destroying Firebases, selected Targets. Forcing the enemy to split there forces, and above all – Denying Targets.

One of the most important parts of a successful Ninja Tau Army is before the battle has even started! The way you place objectives for example will directly affect your tactics and chances of victory.

Seize Ground.

With Seize Ground you place D3+2 Objectives before you choose deployment zones etc. For Ninja Tau you want to place these objectives with the strength of your forces in mind. The table edges are your friend. When placing your objective you (ideally) want to avoid the centre of the table – as the only units able to reach this quickly will be Deep strikers. The best placement is diagonally opposite counters, so –

1 objective exactly 12 inches from the long table edge and 12 inches from the short table edge, then repeat this on the diagonally opposite side of the table. So that both flanks/long table edges have an objective 12 inches away from the long table edge and the short. If you have a 3rd objective to place put it in a similar position on the opposite side of the table to one of the already place objectives.

This means that whatever side you choose (except maybe Table Quarters) you will have a Objective in your deployment zone (close to the flank, so Out flankers will be able to get to it, and within easy reach of your Table Edge reserves). And 1 Objective in your opponent’s deployment zone – again within easy reach of your Out flankers. This is important – Because Kroot outflank, and Kroot can claim objectives!

Also, Outflank is normally rolled for randomly – so with objectives on both flanks your Out flankers will “ALWAYS” come on in an effective position (Backed up by your Deep strikers and Table Edge reserves).

This also helps spit up your opponents army – with 2 objectives so far away from each other it becomes hard for him to guard/attack both with any significant amount of force (bear in mind he will also be trying to guard the other objectives that your DS’ers or Table Edge reserves should be able to contest)

Capture and Control
This is the hardest fight for a Ninja Tau Army (unless it’s a Table Quarters Game), because you have no control over the placement of your opponents objective. You can obviously place your Objective close to a flank (making it easy for your out flankers to help hold it) But your opponent can place his in the centre of his deployment zone – making it very hard for you to get a scoring unit in place. This is negated in a Table Quarters game where the objective will be in the opponents table quarter – making a rear assault very possible. When you deploy it may be an idea to deploy more of your force on the table than normal in a defensive role. Your Deep strikers should be able to contest the enemy objective, while you hold yours.


This is where Ninja Tau truly excels – Denial of Kill points (This will be covered more fully below). As your force is mostly off the table your opponent has nothing to shoot, and when your troops come on you should be able to selectively kill vehicles (long range fire) and isolated units, while your opponent will have little chance to respond.

Deployment/who goes first.

As a rule with Ninja Tau you always want your opponent to go first! This is for several reasons.

1. When he deploys he will spread his forces out, whereas you are only placing 1 (maybe 2/3) Units – Flank denial. Your opponent will have already placed a lot of his army outside of effective support range. If you go first he will know you have a large portion of your army in reserve, and his deployment will be less advantageous to you.
2. It means any reserves your opponent has will generally come onto the table BEFORE yours. This is a good thing, it gives you a chance to focus your response to his reserves and gives him no focus/targets for his aslault. When he deep strikes in – you want him to have nothing to do, when you deep strike in you want to destroy him. For example he drop pods in a dreadnaught equipped for tank killing – you have nothing on the table. You then drive your hammerhead onto the table 60 inches away and blow it up with a rail gun.
3. It will always be good to get the last turn, for last minute objective grabs etc – while your opponents advantage of going first is negated because he has nothing to do/shoot.

When you deploy – generally you want to deploy as few units as possible (especially in a Kill Points game. What you really want/need to deploy is the Commander with the POSITIONAL RELAY. And he needs to be as survivable as possible! Your commanders job is to survive and use his positional relay to delay your reserves (i.e. Use it to bring on a selected unit as required and delay you rolling for your full reserve list until turn 3 / 4. This means that your army will come on with a 3+ or 4+ - so as much as possible will come in on an attack wave at the same time). Deploy him in the centre of the table (by the table edge). Out of LOS if possible and to far from the flanks for enemy out flankers to assault him. Then J Run J yourself from any trouble! (I always give him SD’s and SI to help him survive, in high points games I would also give him a BG) It should be fairly easy to keep him alive till at least turn 3 (when any reserves you opponent has are likely to be in play).

If you deploy anything else – its advisable to do it on the flanks, this at least will have the effect of drawing his army towards the flanks.

Playing the Battle.

Ninja Tau are designed not to be on the table at the start of the battle. They are designed for a series of focused, sneak attack – surgical strikes and objective grabbing later in the game.

As above you want to keep your commander and your Positional relay up and running. Otherwise you will have to randomly roll for ALL of your reserves on the 2nd turn – which as this is on a 4+ means that your army will come on piecemeal (probably). This will make it harder to focus your assaults.

So: You deploy your commander.

Turn one for you – stay out of trouble.

Turn 2 for him and his reserves will start to arrive, with most of your army off the table you are denying him targets and forcing him to spread out his forces. Turn 2 for you - Use Positional Relay to bring in one unit, holding the rest off the table.

Turn 3 - you have a choice, either use your Positional Relay again and bring in a unit of your choice on a 2 +, or randomly roll for everything (3+). I would make this decision based on two factors - what reserves he has left to come on, if you are playing Kill Points or wether you need to bring a particular unit into the fray to counter the threat.

Turn 4 - All his reserves will probably be in play now - so just let yourself roll for all your remaining units (coming in on a 2 +). You can then bring your troops/tanks on where they are needed (including outflanking or Deep striking units) and grab objectives, blow up tanks etc.

Generally with Nina Tau you have only 2/3 turns with forces on the table (maybe 5 if game goes to full random turn length). So you want to destroy as much as possible in one go – this limits what he can fire/assault back at you and also his time to respond to the suddenly appearing threat. Remember to send as much as possible against the same targets, Focus your fire power.

Conclusion and Weaknesses

Ninja Tau is an intensively tactical fight – you don’t just consider the battle, you consider every single aspect of the battle – from deployment to turn order. Its biggest weakness is if it goes badly wrong you sometimes don’t have enough troops in play to reverse this. And this can happen – If your commander dies (you lose your relay), or you could just be tremendously unlucky with your reserve rules. If it works though (and like any Tau army you need to support your units) you can really destroy your enemy and give him no chance to react/do anything about it.

Ninja Tau is a gamblers army, although the odds of your reserves working as you intend are far more in your favour than against. – But its great fun to play, and can be devastating.

The best advice I would give to anyone trying it is “Don’t neglect the Kroot” – They are one of the key units in this set up.

Good Luck to anyone who tries it ;D
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Old 16 Nov 2008, 02:08   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ninja Tau Tactics

interesting ;D
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Old 17 Nov 2008, 01:42   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ninja Tau Tactics

Well written, but unless I missed a FAQ or something I don't think Pathfinders can Outflank.
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Old 17 Nov 2008, 02:12   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ninja Tau Tactics

Originally Posted by Liinsivi
Well written, but unless I missed a FAQ or something I don't think Pathfinders can Outflank.
Page 76, main rulebook. Under "scouts".
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Old 17 Nov 2008, 04:42   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ninja Tau Tactics

Originally Posted by Liinsivi
Well written, but unless I missed a FAQ or something I don't think Pathfinders can Outflank.
They can because they have the scout rule. They can outflank either on foot or with their devilfish. If they come in on foot then the devilfish has to use normal rules and cannot outflank.

Also, if you put seeker missiles on the devilfish and outflank with it, you can get a shot at a tank's rear or side armor.
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Old 17 Nov 2008, 04:53   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ninja Tau Tactics

wow, good to know. I don't personally own a copy of the big book so I'm less familiar with the nitty grities of the USRs.
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Old 17 Nov 2008, 09:51   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ninja Tau Tactics

Additionally, any unit with the scout rule can do it with the transport as well.
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Old 17 Nov 2008, 12:03   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ninja Tau Tactics

That's a seriously cool playstyle. I might have to do it, though I'd do it as counts-as... I wonder if I could make some kind of DEldar suit type thing and play a Dark Eldar counts-as Tau army... I lose the mad close combat skillz but obviously I won't have Wyches so... I'm gonna give that serious thought. All the deepstriking can be represented by Webway Portals...

Only thing is what models will I use for suits...
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Old 17 Nov 2008, 20:01   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ninja Tau Tactics

Interesting idea, but I thought with Positional Relay you have to bring in just one reserve unit per turn -- you can't just turn it off if you want to bring in everyone. But I'm codex-less here, so I could be wrong...

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Old 17 Nov 2008, 21:15   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ninja Tau Tactics

Nope You MAY use it to bring in a unit on a 2+, and if you choose to do so no other reserves come on that turn. But if you choose not to use it then you just bring on reserves as normal (ie. Roll). Thats why its so damn good now, for 15 Pts you can bring a unit you need onto the table, or you can delay your armies reserves by just bringing in one unit and not rolling for the others.

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