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Tau units strengths and weaknesses.
Old 20 Mar 2011, 13:03   #1 (permalink)
Irtehdar's Avatar
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Default Tau units strengths and weaknesses.

So after a couple of recent debates on this forum Ive wanted to write out a rundown of many of the units, their tactical value, their learning curve and their overall worth.
Keep in mind this is my personal oppinion on the units and while it is in part also to once again say I think the skyray and vespids are both awesome units it is just as much for me to learn some of the units Im not that good with yet.
Im going to skip the units that are already self explanatory or would fit in naturally under a different units category.
And Im blatantly skipping the units everyone tends to agree is awesome.

Ethereal - Basically arent they pretty much just an expensive ''Win button'' for our enemies?
We pay for a unit with a kick me sign on it? Okay we can give them a bodyguard unit which is basically more fire warriors who aim their weapons abit better (hits 16,6% more often)
Still due to the limited size we can make our FW's when maxed out they still kill fewer models/points and are still a ''Win button'' for any opponent who can push it successfully.

Kroot - Overall IMHO a decent hybrid unit. Against some opponents they are just as effective in shooting as FW's except they come with some nifty CC abilities and can under some circumstances be a pretty good gunline screen.
Not really much to say about them besides that.

Pathfinders - Pretty much this is a buff unit. They dont really do much on their own however they can give other units a very powerful boost. Basically whichever enemy you want dead before your shooting phase ends is the one you light up with these guys.
In my experience more often or not you can predict how well a Tau army is going to perform with the simple question ''How many Pathfinderds are there?''
Not to mention their Devilfish comes with a nifty ability to make deepstriking more accurate. While some people would want to be able to get them without the fish I dont really get why.
A transport is a transport no matter which unit it originally belonged to and If they didnt have it I would just buy it for the FW's instead.

Piranha - This is a unit I havent really used that much because frankly they compete with both pathfinders and Vespids for very few Fast slots.
What I have observed is if they have a pair of missiles with them the opponent has a hard time figuring out which way to face his front armour.
Placed on the opposite flank compared to the bigger tanks can really give opponents headaches and force the opponent to move forward more slowly because Im looking for flank shots or rear shots from multiple angles.

Gun Drones - While I get the idea fluffwise for the Drone Squad IMHO this unit is gamewise pretty much a waste of bookspace. I really cant figure out why I should ever bring this unit.
I love the models. I love the fluff and I would love an excuse to bring a whole army of Drones but I really cant find justification in bringing this unit with me for anything.

Vespid - This unit really gets alot of flak for not being good. I however feel they are being mistreated badly.
Show a Tau player the Vespids and he will usually roll his eyes and snort in derision.
Dont name the unit but just show the rules of the Unit to an Eldar player and hes gonna ask you ''Toughness 4?''
First time I opened an Eldar Codex the first thought that crossed my mind was something along the line that Eldar is pretty much an army of Vespids.

Sniper Team - I have never fielded them so I really cant say. They dont look particularly good to me.
Or maybe its because they compete with Hammerheads, Skyrays and Broadsides. And honestly thats not really fair to make a unit compete with those things for army spots.

Skyray - Best value unit in the game. And for some reason no one sees it but me. This unit is not only awesome value it almost should be nerfed in the next codex. If you tell GW I said that and they actually do it Im gonna be very sad.
6 Missiles (60 points)
1 FW + Shas'ui upgrade + Markerlight (30 points) x2
So its geared with 120 points of weaponry that most Tau players love. So 5 points to give those weapons the mobility and resilience of a tank is such a horrible value.
If we asume thats how much it costs the Tau in time and effort to put a tank together the Railgun costs 135 points for 5 shots. Asuming it lives long enough to unload them.
The Skyray can deliver all its shots before the enemy even gets a chance to shoot it down. And once its done actually gunning it down becomes a moot point.

EDIT: fixed spelling errors
It is supposedly a big deal... Chokolate or vanilla icecream... I say ''Who Cares? Free Icecream!''

Last edited by Irtehdar; 20 Mar 2011 at 13:06.
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Old 20 Mar 2011, 19:19   #2 (permalink)
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Ethereals are very useful in making sure fire warriors that get exposed dont run after losing a few members of the squad. If you play aggressively with a strong forward moving element, Ethereals really shine.

If you're the guy that sits back with static dominance, its less important since you're receiving less shots, and have more benefit of cover. It is worth noting though, that attaching an ethereal to a squad of broadsides does WONDERS in ensuring they don't run when a random drone gets sniped. Having broadsides run on you is the worst possible thing you could have happen since they are almost always so close to the board edge.

Piranhas are amongst the most effective screening units we have in terms of stopping vehicles and light infantry and they come with a free gun drone squad Don't want that land raider approaching you? Turbo boost these guys to it, and you guaranteed yourself an extra shooting phase. Want to wipe out a pesky squad that's about to threaten you? Go for vehicular manslaughter, boost these piranhas behind the squad so they have no where to run, and tank shock with a devilfish (my favorite tactic by far, and one that sees constant use with assaulty armies). You'll basically wipe them out before your shooting even begins. Want a cheap unit to take the heat off your hammerheads or broadsides? Throw these piranhas at your opponent in large squads. Even without the fusion blaster, you're still going to be eating through most vehicles back armor with a set of S5 guns, making them just as threatening through sheer number of shots (and your opponent wants nothing less than 5 skimmer vehicles in the back of his deployment zone so he WILL dedicate fire to this...

Pathfinders are a mixed blessing, and they do need to be taken in moderation. I've seen lists with 2 full squads in less than 1500 points rock one day, and bite the dust horribly the second. investing about 400 points in to markerlights is going to ensure what gets hit is going to die, but that's 400 points that isn't going into guns. Thus the careful balance act. What needs to be considered is how the rest of your units are configured and whether these units need markerlights at all. A crisis HQ bodyguard squad with helios configurations and targetting arrays probably doesn't need markerlights because 1. Their guns are short ranged and thus, their targets will likely be crossing open ground to get to them, and 2, their accuracy is already quite high and boosting them with markers will more often than not, be an afterthought.

Vehicle dependent armies will have 2 things working against the markerlight theory. 1, all the units are not working as 1 single entity, meaning markerlights only apply benefits ot individual vehicles, and 2. the targeting array is dirt cheap and boosting each vehicle's BS by 1 is cheaper than getting even a pathfinder for each one as well.

Broadsides will almost never need a BS boost thanks to the twin-linking, but often they will be shooting at units in cover, either thanks to terrain, or smokes. For this reason, they would merit about 2-3 markerlights per team. However, most Tau players bring railguns in excess, and there will often be multiple railguns targeting a single vehicular target. with a 50% chance to avoid it through cover, It's unlikely that the opponent will be able to avoid 2 or more railgun shots, negating the need for markerlights anyways. (not that it hurts to have extra insurance)

On the other hand, Full fire warrior squads merit markerlight support, but rarely ever need more than 2. This relatively cheap bit of extra investment makes this 120 point squad just as effective, if not more so, than crisis squads against swarms of all marine equivalent targets or weaker, and against some of the toughest single models out there, especially in the rapid fire range where they just rip everything to shreds. Crisis suits of the standard variety will often need it thanks to their bs3, and 2 markerlights will turn them from an OK unit, to a beast unit, in no time flat.

Following this mentality, I work in around 4 markerlights per bs3 squad that excels in the 12" range, and add an additional 3-4 for help in stripping cover.

Just my 2 cents on those units.
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Old 20 Mar 2011, 21:36   #3 (permalink)
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I pretty much agree 100% with your assessments and although i see the piranha as a useful unit for me it doesn't compare to a broadside when it comes for much the same points and while blocking the enemy is very useful i prefer to destroy them.

as for the sniper teams i like the thought of them but ironically they would be better if they were fielded as a single unit so that they only need a few markers for them all to operate at full efficiency.

using two markers to get a unit that offers only three shots to BS5 is a bit too much of an ask for me.
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