Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bell of Lost Souls: Tournament Tau

Here's an article on a Tau army that performed well at a 70+ player tournament in Texas:


Seems I may have underestimated those Missile Broadsides hehe.... Oh well, more options is much more gooder (proper english!).

Monday, May 20, 2013

Tau Codex Review: Heavy Support

Heavy Support is another rather crowded FOC slot for the Tau.  Hmm seems we have a lot of FOC slots with lots of good choices in this new codex don't we?   I guess I can't complain because that's a sure sign of a good codex.  Decisions, decisions.  Anyway, here is the breakdown:

XV88 Broadside Team

Pros:  2+ Armour save.  Access to Skyfire with good weapons loadouts.  Can bring mass amounts of missiles to the field.  Only model able to take missile drones.

Cons:  Not very mobile.  No longer have Str10 Railguns.  Missile drones can't benefit from drone controller.  Only 1 support slot, can't take interceptor and skyfire.

Notes/Tactics:   Broadsides (and the Tau anti vehicle arsenal) have gotten a bit of a nerf in this codex.  While not a bad unit by any means, Broadsides no longer excel at anything like the railsides of old.  Sure, you can get a lot of Str7 missiles out, but you can only use skyfire OR interceptor on a Broadside, where a Aegis Defense Line Quad gun can do a better job.  The same goes with a Riptide or two with skyfire AND interceptor. 

The Rail option is nice against flyers and ok against vehicles, but again the Hammerhead is a better option as far as anti-vehicles go, plus the submunition shot makes it a bit more versatile against infantry as well.

Broadsides seem to be a wierd jack of all trades, master of none type of option.  And in a crowded Heavy Support slot, don't be surprised if you don't see them as much as you used to in the past.  I give them a C+.

Hammerhead Gunship

Pros:   One of the few anti heavy vehicle options for Tau.  Versatile main weapon options:  Rails can shoot single shot or submunition and Ion Cannon can fire 3 shots or a Large Blast overcharge.   Free Twin Linked Smart Missile System is very nice.  Commander Longstrike adds some VERY nice bonuses especially being able to do multiple overwatches.  Adding Sensor Spines and Disruption Pod makes it easy to hide a Hammerhead in terrain.  Cheaper base cost than last codex.

Cons:  Single Railgun shot not as reliable as the old Railside options.  Its a vehicle so it can be one-hit killed.

Notes/Tactics:   The Hammerhead with Railgun is pretty much mandatory in Tau armies now.  With the nerfing of the Broadside's Rail weapon, its your only answer for heavy IG tanks and Land Raiders.   The only problem is that the Hammerhead has only a single shot.  So if you're prone to rolling ones at the wrong time, it may be your bane.  

But thankfully the Hammerhead has some options.  First off you can add the submunition shot that can let it take on infantry blobs with its Large Blast profile.  Also, if you face a lot of MEQs, the Ionhead's Large Blast can be brutal, but honestly a Riptide can do this better (especially joined with an uber crisis commander).  

As far as secondary weapon systems go, I would say always take the Twin Linked Smart Missile System over the drones or burst cannon.   All 3 have the same strength, AP and number of shots but the SMS is far superior in range, Ignores Cover and doesn't need Line of Sight.  If you love disembarking gun drones, I could see maybe taking those but honestly the Smart Missile System is the way to go, especially when combine with ...

Commander Longstrike.  I'm gonna go ahead and say, if you have the points, ALWAYS take Longstrike.  He boosts your Hammerhead's BS to 5, making it harder to whiff on your To Hit rolls.  He has a blacksun filter, Supporting Fire and can fire in Overwatch.  More importantly he is not limited to firing Overwatch once per turn, again making those SMS systems even more clutch.  One other thing, mechanized Imperial Guard will be a tough matchup for Tau since Broadsides have changed.  Longstrike has both Preferred Enemy: IG and Tank Hunter, so he will be especially usefull against heavy mech guard.

Overall I see the Hammerhead as the one mandatory Heavy Support choice for Tau players.   I give it an A-.

Sky Ray Missile Defense Gunship

Pros:   Cheap Anti-Vehicle and Anti-Air (has Skyfire).    Can fire all 6 seekers in one turn.  BS4 Skyfire Networked Marklights   Access to free Twin Linked Smart Missile System.  Adding Sensor Spines and Disruption Pod makes it easy to hide in Terrain. 

Cons:  In a crowded FOC slot.   Its a vehicle so it can be one-hit killed. 

Notes/Tactics:   The Sky Ray has definately gotten buffed with this edition.   Seeker Missiles no longer NEED markerlights to be fired and only get better if you do use markerlights to fire them.    Plus unlike flyers, if you dont move your Sky Ray you can fire all 6 missiles in one turn if you want.   Similar to the Hammerhead, SMS is definately the way to go for the secondary weapons, especially once you've used up all your missiles.    The 2 skyfire markerlights are also very useful and give another viable markerlight option to your Tau army.  Same as the Hammerhead, you'll want to put Sensor Spines and Disruption Pods on your Sky Ray and just deploy it in some ruins for a 3+ cover save.  Overall the Sky Ray is a definate improvement and a good choice especially in larger point games, I give it a B+.

Sniper Drone Team

Pros:   BS5 sniper shots.  BS5 markerlights.  Stealth for unit.  24" rapid fire range.   Within 12" of Ethereal it can have 3x sniper shots per drone in rapid fire range.  Rather cheap.  Supporting Fire.  Drones are Toughness 4 and Initiative 4.

Cons:  Only Leadership 7.  In a crowded Heavy Support slot.

Notes/Tactics:  Its a toss up between these guys and Ethereals for the most improved Tau unit with this codex.   These guys are among the best snipers in the game.   BS5 with rapid fire at 24" is fantastic.  You'll also want to max out your Marksmen because BS5 markerlights are no joke either.  You'll pretty much want to just plop these guys in cover within 12" of your Ethereal, and take advantage of the extra rapid fire shot whenever you can.  In Big Guns Never Tire games, these guys are the perfect choice to sit on a rear objective, freeing up your troops to try and get other objectives.  This unit is also a good choice to man your Aegis Defense Line Quad Gun with BS5.  To top it all off Sniper Drone Teams are one of your most cost effective units out there.   I give them an A.

So again, we have another crowded FOC slot in Heavy Support.  Can't really complain about that.   I think in most cases I'll be taking a Hammerhead, Sniper Drone Team and a Skyray for most games, in that order of preference.   How about you?   Have you found great success with Broadsides?   Am I off base with my judgements?  Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tau Codex Review: Fast Attack

Arguably the most crowded of the Tau FOC choices, the Fast Attack slot obviously gives you plenty of choices.  But which are the best?   Here's the breakdown:


Pros:  Cheap source for marker lights.  No longer HAVE to take a Devilfish.  Some nice heavy weapons options with Ion Rifle and Rail Rifle.  Interesting new Drone types, not sure how useful they are just yet.  Have Scout and Supporting Fire special rules.

Cons:  Armour downgraded to 5+.  Still can't move and shoot marker lights.  Low Leadership.  Only BS3.  Low Initiative and Weapon Skill.

Notes/Tactics:  Pathfinders were pretty much the best source of markerlights in the last codex.  Now they are even cheaper.   You no longer need to take a devilfish with them (THANK GOD!).  And while they may not necessarily be the best source of markerlights (that subject will get its own codex breakdown), they still are pretty much the most cost efficient way.   You will definitely still be seeing them in most Tau army lists.

The addition of some heavy weapons options is pretty nice too, especially the Ion Rifle.  But with no ability to split fire, you may not want to waste that gun on the unit you are marker lighting.  The new drones they have aren't too bad but nothing game breaking.   The grav inhibitor drone combined with Darkstrider's Fighting Retreat rule can make for a hard unit to charge.  But 9 times out of 10 you will be mostly using your pathfinders as cheap markerlights and there is nothing wrong with that.   Pathfinders get a solid B.

Vespid Stingwings

Pros:  Jump Pack infantry makes them fast.   Improved range on Power armour killing guns.   Stealth in Ruins is much more useful than Stealth in Woods on most tabletops (we're looking at you Kroot!).   Decent 4+ save.  Hit and Run combined with Initiative 6 is VERY nice.  Toughness 4 is better than most Tau infantry units.  Also have Fleet and Move thru Cover.

Cons:  Expensive.  Base units have a silly Ld 6, making Strain Leaders a must have upgrade.   This unit is stuck in a very crowded Fast Attack slot, Stingwings would have made a great, balanced 3rd troop type.

Notes/Tactics:  Vespid Stingwings were the laughing stock of 40k in the last codex and have been greatly improved in this codex.  But unfortunately they're stuck in an overcrowded FOC slot now.
These guys are very mobile with the Fleet and Move through cover too which ties in nicely with their Stealth in Ruins ability.  Vespid make a good "mop up crew" type of unit.  Let your Firewarriors and others weaken advancing infantry and then have your Vespid jump in and finish them off. 

It’s a shame that Vespid are still a Fast Attack option.  With this FOC slot so crowded and the slim choices you have in the Troops slot, I think they would have made a great Troop choice.  I think their expense would have balanced them nicely versus firewarriors and kroot.  Plus their abilities would greatly complement those two units too. 

But unfortunately you probably won't be seeing many Vespid units on the battlefield.  Most tau players will most likely be filling their Fast Attack slot with Pathfinders and either flyer or Piranha squads.   Its a shame too because Vespid are a good unit.   I give them a B.

Drone Squadron

Pros:  All drones are the same price and not too expensive.  Gun Drones have twice as many shots at before.  Marker drones are A LOT cheaper.

Cons:  Only BS 2.  Still count towards 25% models lost in unit.  Missile Drones only available to Broadsides and do not benefit from Drone Controller.  Using Fast Attack slot isn't most efficient way to get drones in general, its better to add them to various units that can take them.

Notes/Tactics:   Drones have got a mild boost in this edition.  They all are now the same price and Marker drones are MUCH cheaper than they were.  You'll probably rarely be taking them in the Fast Attack slot however.   As a Fast Attack unit they can only join Independent Characters, thus disallowing those Independent Characters from join OTHER units. 

The best way to get drones is to buy them with your various units, ie. Crisis Suits, Broadsides, Firewarriors etc.   One of the best combos so far is taking a Crisis Suit Commander with a Drone Controller and giving him BS5 Marker Drones.   This is also very good in helping you free up a Fast Attack slot for something other than Pathfinders.
Overall Drone Squadron gets a C- but taking Drones with other units is the way to go, I guess I'd give them a B if taken that way.


Pros:  Only Fast Skimmer that Tau have.   MUCH cheaper than before.   With Burst Cannon and Drones you can get a lot of anti infantry firepower in a 5 model squadron.  Give it Sensor Spines and Disruption Pod to let it Move Thru Cover and get nice Cover bonus.

Cons:  Pretty weak armour.  In a crowded Fast Attack Slot.  Can no longer use targetting array to boost BS to 4.  Only two main weapon choices: burst cannon or fusion blaster

Notes/Tactics:   Piranhas have gotten some boosts in this edition.  They are a bit cheaper now and they can be taken in greater numbers than before.   With 6th edition and the focus away from mechanized armies, the burst cannon/gun drone option seems to be the more desirable of the two main weapons. 

With their speed and cheapness they can make a good harrassment unit.  And if you play in a group with a lot of vehicles you can use the improved fusion blasters to take them out.   Piranhas are a decent choice in a crowded Fast Attack slot, I give them a B-.

Sun Shark Bomber

Pros:  Networked Markerlight with Skyfire.  At 18" move you can drop 2 blast templates (overcharge ion rifles) and 1 large blast template (pulse bomb).  Interceptor drones can be dropped during movement phas.  Interceptor drones have skyfire and interceptor.  Can be equipped with Twin Linked Missile Pod that is a 360 degree turret.  Comes with 2 seeker missiles.

Cons:  Weak Armour.  BS3 so it needs markerlight support.  Interceptor Drones are only BS2 (though twinlinked).

Notes/Tactics:  Both of the new Tau Flyers at first seem to be nothing special.  But fortunately they are much better than the Dark Angels Nephalim Failure, I mean, Fighter.  I'm personally fond of the Sun Shark Bomber because its a great source of blast templates versus infantry heavy armies.   Plus it does have some anti air options: fly behind a flyer and use your missile pod turret or interceptor drones.

Overall I'd give the Sun Shark Bomber a B-.

Razorshark Strike Fighter

Pros:  Quad Ion Turret is 360 degree arc with 4 Str7 shots, fly past enemy flyers and shoot them on their rear armour.  Turret can overcharge a  Str 8 Large Blast.  Comes with 2 seeker missiles.  Burst Cannon can be upgraded to Missile Pod.  Very cheap flyer.

Cons:  No Markerlight.  Weak armour.   BS3.

Notes/Tactics:  While I do tend to prefer the Sun Shark Bomber for my army needs, I can see why some would prefer the Razorshark, especially those who use Tau as an ally contigent.   Its a very inexpensive flyer that, if used correctly, can be effective at taking out enemy flyers.  The key is taking advantage of its 360 degree Quad Ion Turret.   Going full speed and flying past enemy flyers lets you fire at their rear armour.  This makes a huge difference most of the time (except for Stormravens).  

The Razorshark does also have some versatility in that it can take out ground infantry rather well with its Str8 AP4 Large Blast Quad Ion Turret Overcharge.   At Str8 you'll have no problem wounding any infantry and you may be able to instakill units like Grey Knight Paladins.

I give the Razorshark Strike Fighter a C+.

So what do YOU think?   Do you make room for Vespids in your army list?  How about the flyers?   Which has brought you the most success?   Leave a comment below and let me know!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Tau Codex Review: Troops

Well, to be honest there's not much change to the Troop types in the new codex.  There are no new Demiurg troops, there's no HQ to turn crisis suits into troops either, as rumors had been hinting.  Oh well, I wasn't expecting THAT big of a change here. 

However after reading the entire codex I really wish they made Vespids a Troop choice, their expense and limited weapons range would balance them nicely versus Kroot and Firewarriors.  And they would have been a nice mobile option for taking objectives.  Oh well, I guess they'll flounder in the overly full Fast Attack slot this edition. 
  On to the Troops section review:


Pros:  Excellent 30" range, 15" rapid fire range.  Strength 5 guns.  4+ armour isn't bad.  Can be buffed nicely by Fireblades and Ethereals.  Support Fire special rule is very nice.  Can get drones.  Now come with photon grenades standard.  Can take EMP grenades.  Cheaper than last codex.  Shas'vre can get Markerlight and Target Lock.

Cons:  Only BS3 without marker light support.  Poor in close combat.  Dedicated Transport is expensive.  Leadership is average.  Only Toughness 3.  Low Initiative.

Notes/Tactics:   Firewarriors got some nice subtle boosts in this new codex.  They are still only BS3 and quite dependent on marker lights to be effective.  But, with the addition of some synergistic HQ choices, they can really shine.   Combining an Ethereal and a Fireblade with a unit can potentially give each Firewarrior 4 shots in rapid fire range, thats awesome.

Devilfish are still expensive and Disruption Pods got even more expensive.  You probably won't be seeing a lot of them on the tabletops.  But, taking one for your Ethereal is a good idea because it prevents him from being Instakilled by high power template weapons.  It also greatly expands his 12" bubble of Invocation influence, so I recommend taking one Devilfish in your army for your Ethereal.

Overall I give the Firewarriors a solid B.  Their cost reduction and subtle improvements definately make them viable.

Kroot Carnivore Squads

Pros:  Dirt cheap.  Better guns than Guardsmen.   They finally have an armour save standard.  1x Hound grants the squad Acute Senses.  Krootox Gun is good against vehicles when outflanking.  Sniper rounds are cheap and can be mass deployed.  Have Move Thru Cover and Infiltrate.  Can use marker lights now.

Cons:  No longer have extra attack from kroot gun.  No longer Strength 4.  While 6+ armour save for free is better than what they had, its still only a 6+ armour save.  Stealth ability is still only in Forests, which you rarely see on most tables.

Notes/Tactics:  Contrary to most Kroot fans, I'm not too concerned with the nerfs to their close combat abilities.  Since 6th edition, they have been pretty useless in close combat.  If you try to charge with them, they'll get shot up in overwatch with no armour saves. 
Besides once they got into combat they were rarely better than the unit they were facing when it came to close combat.  They were only good relative to the rest of the Tau units which are arguably the worst in the game.

I think Kroot got a nice boost overall in this codex.  They can use marker lights and they have the nice and cheap option to use Sniper rounds.   Plus they got a good cost reduction as well as a base armour save.   Plus Outflanked Krootox Guns can be rather effective on most Vehicles' side armour.

I dont think you'll see many competitive all Kroot armies and I think most people will make the majority of their Troop choices Firewarriors, but I do think every army could benefit from a squad of Kroot.   Lets face it, Firewarriors like to sit and shoot, not run around the tabletop.  And since Devilfish are relatively expensive and fragile have a bunch of those isn't terribly cost effective.   So how do you get Troops to claim distant objectives?   Kroot!  Keep them in reserve and then Outflank them (hopefully later in the game so they dont get shot up).   Bring a pair of Krootox to help take out Vehicles (and spread wounds).  

So Kroot aren't the end all be all troop choice, but they are dirt cheap and definately have their uses.   Just don't think of them as a close combat unit anymore.   I give Kroot Carnivore Squads a B-.

So, we didn't really get any new Troop choices, and our choices are rather limited, unlike Chaos Deamons and Blood Angels who both have 5 troop choices.  But its safe to say that both our choices have improved and focused more on the main philosophy of the Tau army which is synergistic shooting power.   Having Vespid become a Troop choice would have been a nice complement to the other two choices, but, oh well, we can't have everything...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Tau Codex Review: Elites

In the last codex, everyone pretty much maxed out their Elites slot with Crisis Suit Squads.   This codex there is a bit more selection.   Here's the breakdown:

XV8 Crisis Suits:

Pros:  Come with Multi Tracker and Blacksun included.  3pts less per model compared to last codex.  Much more flexible weapons options:  you can have up to 3 weapons, 1 TL and one regular, or 2 single versions of the same weapon.  Good armour save.  Decent toughness.  Jump shoot jump makes them rather mobile.  Can deep strike.   Are a good heavy infantry, monstrous creature, light vehicle killer.  Can be equipped with Interceptor and/or skyfire. Has Supporting Fire rule.

Cons:  Can still be insta killed by Str8 weapons (though you can take iridium armour to boost Toughness).  Compete with Riptides now in Elite slot.   Still not good in close combat.

Notes/Tactics:   In the last codex Crisis Suits were pretty much your only choice in the Elites slot.  This time they have some serious competition in the Riptide (stealth suits, not so much).    I think they pretty much go head to head with Riptides in the fact that they can field more firepower in terms of shot numbers. 

You have A LOT more flexibility in how you arm your suits now.  If you want, you can run 2 single versions of the same weapon, making 2x missile pods or 2x plasma rifles quite a nice option.  They are still great at killing light vehicles, heavy infantry and monstrous creatures. 

You can equip them with burst cannons and flamers to take on hordes, but honestly you never want your Crisis Suits that close to your enemy AND you have plenty of other S5 Ap5 options in this army.  Also, while fusion blasters have been improved to 18" and are great at taking on heavy vehicles, again that means you need to get relatively close to the enemy which is generally not a good idea with this army. 

I think the best builds for Crisis Suits are the Fireknife (Missile Pod/Plasma Rifle), Dual Missile Pods, Dual Plasma Rifles and the Helios (Fusion Blaster/Plasma Rifle: great for Farsight bombing).  Overall the unit gets a solid A.

XV104 Riptide:

Pros:  Only Monstrous Creature for Tau.  Ion Accelerator has great pie plate weapons profile and decent against fliers as a single shot.  AP2 close combat attacks.  Toughness 6 so can't be insta killed because of Double Strength weapons.  Has 5 Wounds.  Has Supporting Fire rule.  2+ Armour and 5+ Invul.  Nova Charges give you plenty of options.   Can have both Skyfire AND Interceptor.  Nova Charged Heavy Burst Cannon has 12 shots and Rending... uber Assault Cannon! Can Deep Strike.

Cons:  Shielded Missile Drones are pricey and can cause Ld tests if lost.  Big model can make it difficult to hide and maneuver.   Nova charging can sometimes damage a Riptide better than your enemy can.   Heavy Burst Cannon Nova charge shot can be deadly... to your Riptide!

Notes/Tactics:  The Riptide is a VERY welcome addition to the Tau.  And while it can unleash plenty of firepower, I think its greatest strength is its Toughness.  Crisis Suits can still be instakilled by high power pie plate shooting, but a Riptide cannot.   Plus with 2+ armour and the ability to have a 3+ invul save, the Riptide is arguably the Tau's most resilient unit. 

Nova charging is an interesting new game mechanic as well.  You can get a 3+ invul save, a 4d6 jump shoot jump move, fire your secondary weapons twice or shoot an Uber version of your Ion Accelerator or Heavy Burst Cannon. 

Honestly though, the best offensive option for the Riptide is an Overcharged (not Nova Charged) Ion Accelerator shot.  It can liquify power armour and terminator armour threats and is just as good versus horde armies because it is still a Large Blast template.   If you are facing heavy vehicle armies you can Nova charge it for Str9 AP2 Large Blast that also has Ordnance (2d6 penetration rolls).   And if you give the Riptide Skyfire and Interceptor, you can help take on flyers or deep strikers (especially with the Ion Accelerator's 72" range)   The Heavy Burst Cannon CAN be nice... if you get Rending shots and don't Gets Hot! any of those 12x shots (Ion Accelerator only rolls 1x Gets Hot! roll).  Plus, it just isn't anywhere near as versatile as the Ion Accelerator.

As I hinted to earlier, my ideal build for the Riptide is with the Ion Accelerator, TL Plasma Rifle, Early Warning Override (Interceptor) and Velocity Tracker (Skyfire) with no drones.  I generally like to run an Aegis Defense Line with my army so the Skyfire on the Riptide is more a contigency option against flyers.  But if you dont feel you need the Skyfire, the Stimulant Injector is a nice option too, because remember, a Feel No Pain save doesn't count as an actual save, so its usable for failed Nova Charge rolls. 

Overall I think the Riptide is a great addition to the Tau army, I give it an A.

Stealth Suit Team:

Pros:  Have Stealth AND Shrouded.   Can Deep Strike.   Can jump-shoot-jump.  3+ armour save.  Have Infiltrate special rule.   If Shadowsun joins them, they can auto-Look Out Sir! for her.  Have Supporting Fire rule.  Each model can use a Support System.   Shas'vre can get Homing Beacon and/or Markerlight and Target Lock.  Can take drones.  Have Multitracker (why?) and Blacksun Filter.

Cons:  Limited weapon loadouts with limited ranges... Burst Cannon (which we have plenty of S5 AP5 shots already) and Fusion Blaster which is great but only 18" range.  Only Toughness 3 and 1 Wound. 

Notes/Tactics:  Oh Stealth Teams, your models are so cool looking.  I so wish I had a compelling reason to run you in my army.   Its not that you're bad, your Stealth and Shrouded abilities are quite nice actually.  But unfortunately you fall short offensively and you aren't terribly cheap.   I can get Str5 AP5 with better range elsewhere with my Firewarriors.  And I really dont want you close enough to my enemy for you to use Fusion Blasters.  

I can put you with Shadowsun for a nice Look out Sir boost, but honestly Shadowsun joining Crisis Suits is more awesome.  Sigh.

As far as being an option for Marker lights and drones, its true, you can do that.  But your BS is only 3 so using a Crisis Suit Commander or a Sniper Drone Team will get me better marker lights.

Hmm, Stealth Teams, not bad but no where near as good as Crisis Suits or Riptides... again.   You guys get a C+.  Again, sigh.

Overall the Elites section is improved over the last edition.  You do technically have more viable choices to play in the Crisis Suits and Riptide, plus the Stealth teams aren't bad.  More options is always better, right?

So was I off on any of my opinions?  Have you found a fun combo for Stealth Teams that propell them to compete with our other Elite choices?   Let me know in the comments below.