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Monday, May 27, 2013

Perfect Storm: Part IV Deeper Dive Into Tau Strategy

In part II we took a preliminary look at the Tau codex and began assessing strengths and weaknesses and arrived at a few lessons to keep in mind for army construction. Now we need to look at how the units within the Tau codex address those strengths and weaknesses along with how they come together to address the broader lessons. In later posts we will go through the units in more detail, but for now we will continue to look at the broader picture.

Random Tau picture from my battle reports.

So with those lessons in mind, let's address them.

1. We will be able to deal with infantry, heavy infantry, and monstrous creatures at range.

With this established we will focus on the other lessons where we are weaker and assume that this will take care of itself. When we finish building the army we will go back and assess whether or not this is still true, but given the abundance of varied shooting throughout our codex we should be ok.

2. We have to make sure that we provide adequate firepower to deal with high AV vehicles, either through mobile melta delivery platfoms or the inclusion of high strength long range firepower.

Long time Tau players have always taken this for granted. The previous iteration of our railgun toting broadside provided a semi-mobile (with the addition of ASS) twin linked, very long range, very high strength very low AP platform. This unit allowed Tau generals to very capably remove any vehicles from the board. 

Today's iteration of the railgun toting broadside lost an insignificant (outside of maybe apocalypse) amount of range, the ability to move without snap shooting, and two points in strength bringing it down the same level as a Space Marine missile launcher.

The Tau codex is no longer the preeminent long range high AV destroying codex.

So how do we deal with high AV vehicles? We have three base options -
  • We can overcharge an ion accelerator toting riptide and hope not to fail or get hot.
  • We can bring railheads and with judicious use of markerlights (or longstrike) hope that we get a good pen roll.
  • We can bring the game's best widely distributed melta, the fusion gun. With an 18" range we are in the sweet spot at 9". We can deliver this melta on pirhanas, crisis suits, stealth suits and riptides.
3. We have to invest in troop mobility either through high cost transports, large numbers of outflanking troops or allies.

This one hurts... Our APC is not in any way cheap and has no firepoints (we don't get special weapons anyway so no big deal). However, depending on the list we bring a devil fish or two can work. If we are running some hammerheads or broadsides and riptides we can provide a larger number of potential targets.

On the other hand we can also invest in dirt cheap kroot.With judicious use of cover these small units (plus a hound to get acute senses) can provide us pseudo mobility into our opponents deployment zone.

Finally, we are battle brothers with one of the most durable base troop units, the space marine, and one of the fastest in Eldar Guardian Jetbikes, depending on what the new codex does with them.

4. We have to be wary about over investing in strength 7 weaponry to the exclusion of a range of tools.

With a plethora of missiles and  ion weapons it is important for us to not neglect other tools. We already spoke about the need to bring some high-AV busting weapons, and we should also be careful to roll with some low AP weaponry to deal with 2+ save opponents. Yes, individually dual MP crisis suits, HYMP broadsides, ionheads, riptides with ion accelerators... all rock. But if we over invest we confine ourselves to too narrow of a tool set.

5. Because of the synergistic effects we enjoy from markerlights etc... We have to very carefully balance the inclusion of allies. While they can certainly balance some of our weaknesses, they also dilute the synergies. (Every non-Tau unit added is one less unit that can take advantage of those markerlights or supporting fire). 

This is one of the hardest choices to make. Allying in other armies helps shore up our weaknesses.
  • Eldar and SMs provide psychic abilities.
  • Eldar add some psychic defense (assumed pending codex details). 
  • SM helps address some of our leadership issues.
  • Both races allow for some counter-assault options.
  • Both races provide additional troop options (as noted earlier)
However, every point we spend on allies dilutes the effectiveness of our special rules. If we can limit/neutralize blast damage then a well staggered defense position with supporting fire can have devastating impact on assaults. Additionally, our allies don't benefit from markerlights, making them less points efficient.

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