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Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Tau of Mathhammer

In response to the post 40k Theory: It's All About The Numbers by Nikephoros I decided to do the same calculation for my Tau army list.

It was interesting to me because I had performed a similar calculation to compare the efficiency of various Crisis suit configurations at killing terminators (TEQ), marines (MEQ) and humans (GEQ).  For a while I'd been using the twin-linked missile pods with a targeting array (referred to as the "Deathrain" configuration by Tau players).  This gives 2 shots with a 36 inch range at BS4 and it's twin linked, so it's great for killing light transports.  With this configuration a squad of three suits would reliably hit with 5 out of 6 shots, however that also demonstrates it's weakness - low rate of fire.  Tau armys rely on the Crisis suits to do most of the killing for the army (foreshadowing) and Deathrains aren't very good at killing marines.  The other popular Crisis suit loadout is the Fireknife, it has a missile pod, plasma rifle and multitracker so it can shoot both in the same turn.  To figure out if the added low-AP shots from the plasma rifle was worth the higher points and lower BS3 I decided to whip out some mathhammer.  

My results are that a squad of three Deathrain suits (at BS4) should kill 1.5 MEQs to the Fireknife's 2 MEQs (which goes up to 3.3 MEQs in rapid fire range).  If you use markerlights to bring the Fireknife BS up to BS5 they should kill almost 3.5 MEQs at range.  

Whoa mathy, on to Nike's numbers... (Read the article and the 8 or so follow-ups to understand what this means)

3 Units of 3 Crisis Suits (w/ 1 HQ) / 11.39 / 2.33 / 22.97 / 0.00
12 Gun Drones (+3 SD CC) / 1.32 / 1.66 / 0.00 / 0.00
2 Devilfish / 0.66 / 0.00 / 0.00 / 0.00
1 Piranha / 0.55 / 0.00 / 3.03 / 1.92
12 Firewarriors / 2.64 / 1.33 / 0.00 / 0.00
10 Kroot / 1.65 / 2.50 / 0.00 / 0.00
13 Kroot, 2 Hounds / 2.15 / 3.75 / 0.00 / 0.00
8 Pathfinders (2 squads of 4) / 0.88 / 0.88  / 0.00 / 0.00
3 Broadsides / 4.40 / 1.00 / 11.00 / 6.60
2 Hammerheads / 3.15 / 0.00 / 5.50 / 3.30
Total  / 28.79 / 13.45 / 42.49 / 11.82

If the pathfinders use their markerlights to raise the Crisis suits to BS5 the numbers change to:

Total / 34.91 / 13.45 / 60.84 / 11.82

The numbers don't look too bad (except for CC), but Tau rely on the ability to kill the opposition at range and the proliferation of army's that either move fast and assault or deep strike make life very hard for the Tau player.  Also, any opponent who is experienced in playing Tau knows to kill the Crisis suits first, the numbers above show why that's so important.

The numbers are not bad at killing marines or mech, but pretty weak other than that.  Despite the reputation for long range killing power AV14 is still a problem because there are only so many railguns available (the answer is 9 maximum), and doing that limits the number of horde killing templates you can take.  That's why I started building marines.


  1. I play a lot of Tau as well and was never really a fan of the deathrain configuration. Ran all fireknives instead and always found that I hurt vehicles enough with my broadsides and the missles from my fireknives. Never really felt that I needed that much more accuracy. On the other hand, found it a lot more dificult to remove infantry with deathrains vs fireknives. Point differential never bothered me that much as I could never really find that many more units in the Tau codex that made me feel like I needed save pts for.

  2. I think I fell into the Deathrains playing my brother's guard and an eldar player at the local store, against both of those I didn't really notice the lack of low-AP. I started thinking about it when I decided to play in the NOVA figuring most of the opposition would be some flavor of marines.

    I always used the point differential on more suits, also the accuracy meant I didn't need pathfinders which gave me more points. 15 Crisis suits look daunting on the table...until they get multi-assaulted.

  3. For me even without the pathfinders I felt the trade off worth it just for volume of shots.

    I find that most of my crisis suit shooting happens w/out pathfinders as typically they are dead early. Simply put they draw great volume of fire. However, before they die I generally will have used their tokens with the broadsides (removing cover) first to take out scarier vehicles.

    Be interested to see a list and understand the 15 crisis suit fit. Assuming you had bodyguards and 2 HQs but wondering what else you had on the table... I've considered running bodyguards but could never find the points. Always end up with 1 commander and 9 suits (3x3 elites). Drew might even have saved one of my old lists...

  4. I was so traumatized by the relentless beatings the Tau gave me as a formative player that I think I blocked out all memory of those events. I feel a nagging sense of dread every time I feel a crisis suit, and for some reason my eyes start to tear up as though I've been punched in the nose at the sight of a broadside...

  5. I just added some lists in a new post for your viewing pleasure. I always found that pathfinder would provoke a visceral reaction in opponents after they removed some cover saves. Usually they'd expend way too much shooting to kill them off which was fine with me - I always looked at them as a bonus rather than necessary for success.