Friday, 7 April 2017

Tactica Tau - Unleash your space commie!

Tactica Tau - Unleash your space commie!

If you're a follower of this blog you will no doubt have read up on my Tau at this year's Cancon. I know that many other players at the comp were left scratching their heads as to why I was bringing Tau to such a competitive competition but their was a logic to it. I've long stated unequivocally that in my mind Tau are a weak force in comparison to the top tier lists available and with a request from the TO that I show a degree of restraint with my list this year (as opposed to last year!) I figured I'd kill two birds one stone. 

I really enjoy my Tau, I like the fluff of the space commies and the model range that is coming out of onslaught is really fantastic in my mind so they are an army I would like to see do well.  We have a history in Australian comps though of seeing almost no Tau and that is largely a reflection of the list rather than access to minis. That said I really like what Matt Shadowlord is doing in his Viorla edition of Tau and I think his efforts could just lead to a version of Tau that is more competitive. This article then will focus on Matts revision rather than the approved version which like many others lists I rate as complete rubbish. There seems to be no realistic possibility of that list changing though so I'd suggest if you are a keen player of space commies then backing Matt with the reports and data he needs is your best chance. 

Core unit options

Fire warriors - with Tau more than many other lists we see lots of debate surrounding the most effective options and builds. Personally I prefer suits to fire warriors but I've seen fire warriors used to great effect too. If I were looking to include them I'd be focusing on them as a solid place to hide my ground based AA by throwing a skyray in with the devil fish. It could be s great place to hide your sup com as well though it doesn't have the advantage of being super tough or fearless and if you add a sup com odds are it will become a BTS so be careful in that respect. You will need to watch out for air assault formations especially. I've seen lots of versions where you throw in pathfinders for the markerlights, an ethereal for fearless or coordinate them with a tetra formation in order to do a hard hitting alpha strike unit. In my mind however you want to avoid failing into the trap of pouring points into this unit and just keep it simple. 

Crisis suits - My favourite core option by far but the warning here is that if you want to run lots of crisis suits you need to basically build your army around this structure. My Cancon build for example was all about suits in orcas dropping down to wreck stuff and it worked to some degree. Suits on the ground without an air transport option are just too slow and don't hit hard enough to really threaten much so I think their points are wasted and would be better spent on fire warriors.  I always invest in drones and sometimes invest in the cadre fireblade but that's about it unless you want to include a sup com. 

Support options
One thing about Viorla is that we are somewhat spoilt for options here, the real skill is in finding an effective synergy between units and then using them on table to maximise that potential. 

Xv104 riptide suits - they caused quite a stir when they dropped with lots of calls of OP (including myself much to my shame) but Matt has done a great job giving us a functional unit here that will feature in many Tau lists. They are expensive for what they do in my mind but no more than most things in Tau. 

Gunships - though there are a few options here in my mind the one that fills an obvious gap for Tau is the hammerhead variant. Long range Titan busting death that combines well with markerlights if you can arrange it. I generally take 1-2 units of these guys in various sizes, often with a skyray included 

Scouts - tetras and pirannas both have their uses to me, if nothing else they are cheap activation padders who add the always useful scout ability and markerlights if you can make them live long enough to put it out use. Experiment with your combinations and see if you would prefer units what rain down missiles at long range or units that focus on putting little red dots on important formations. 

Broadside battlesuits - these guys have always been a bit awkward to me. Given that we are looking at Viorla I'd suggest your points are better invested in either hammerheads or riptides rather than this unit that seems to sit on the fence between them. 

Skyrays - absolutely essential to include but much like hydras for gaurd I'd suggest you go with integrating a single into bigger formations than taking a unit of them all together because it's too vulnerable to breaking. 

KX-139 Supremacy Suits - these guys are fantastic, my Cancon build this year was lacking them largely due to laziness in modelling and I totally regret that. I consider taking two of them to be absolutely compulsory now to give you some long range hitting power. 

Stealth suits - one of those units I keep coming back too. I've tried them as deepstriking ambushers and now I run them with a fireblade in an orca for engagement. I wish they had an AT gun option to back their AP ability but I reckon they are a unit worth exploring. 

Pathfinders - much like skyrays I think  pathfinders are a good unit but you will find better synergies if you add them to core infantry rather than running them as full units by themselves 

Vespids - cool concept but not worth the points in my mind. Any sort of engage based unit that has zero armour won't find a role in my army and I reckon that fire warriors are a better option. 

KV-128 Stormsurge suits - much like vespids, I like the concept but there are better big suits for your points. 

Air caste formations 

Baracuda fighter bombers - much like thunderbolts these are a nice flexible unit that I tend to include every time. Lots of flexibility to use for CAP or ground attack 

Razorshark fighters - must admit I've never used them, to me barracudas have always looked the better option because of their flexibility 

Manta dropship - big fat war engine of death. Worth experimenting with for the assault support and interesting tactical options but overall to me it doesn't hit hard enough for its points. Certainly not as a shooting focussed unit. 

Orca transport - whether or not you include these will really depend on your build. I love orcas because they are cheap and effective for delivering crisis suits and stealth suits. Adding in the possibility of a sneaky turn 3 drop down to contest and objective they are great value in my build. I wish they had the extra hitting power of the thunderhawk because you can be stuck with something to do with them at times but they are still great. I totally recommend the pickup turn 1 drop turn 2 or 3 because that can be great for padding activations. 

Spacecraft - cheap and potentially effective, another auto include for me. Yes it sucks when the shots miss but the double TK shot is useful to me in basically every game. 

Tiger shark AX-10 - so good I wish I could take multiples. You will tend to only remember all the times it misses but with its hitting power and range it really covers what would have been a hole otherwise. 

Sunshark bomber squadron - personally I've never used them but I know plenty of Tau players who like these guys, especially if you are going super air heavy rather than the more engagement driven approach of my build. For me I think that the supremacy suits recently added give you enough long range artillery support without the risk of being aircraft. Sun sharks don't have the special rules like disrupt or ignore cover that others do which really makes a difference. 


Sample builds 
I've never mastered tau or found anyone who is hugely successful with them to tap into for tactics and builds but the best I can offer is a few builds assembled by myself and a guy named Norto who easily wears the crown of the best Tau general at this year's Cancon. 

Sample Build 1 - Castle Assault 2016

CRISIS BATTLESUIT CADRE [325] 4 XV8 Crisis Battlesuit, Shas'o
FIRE WARRIOR CADRE [225] 6 Fire Warriors, 3 Devilfish
FIRE WARRIOR CADRE [225] 6 Fire Warriors, 3 Devilfish
ARMOUR SUPPORT GROUP [375] ***BTS 4 Hammerhead Gunships (Ionhead), 2 extra Hammerhead Gunships (Ionhead), Skyray
ARMOUR SUPPORT GROUP [225] 4 Hammerhead Gunship (Railhead)
ARMOUR SUPPORT GROUP [225] 4 Hammerhead Gunship (Railhead)
ARMOUR SUPPORT GROUP [225] 4 Hammerhead Gunship (Railhead)
RECON SKIMMER GROUP [175] 5 Tetra, Piranha
RECON SKIMMER GROUP [175] 5 Tetra, Piranha
RECON SKIMMER GROUP [175] 5 Tetra, Piranha
RECON SKIMMER GROUP [175] 5 Tetra, Piranha
RECON SKIMMER GROUP [175] 5 Tetra, Piranha
BARRACUDA SQUADRON [150] 2 Barracuda Fighters
BARRACUDA SQUADRON [150] 2 Barracuda Fighters

This was the build I fought against at Castle Assault last year, the bat rep is on the blog so you can check it out for yourself. You will note the veritable horde of tetras in the force which helped it do some interesting coordinated fire attacks. Note that technically this is not a Voir'la list it's standard Tau which is why there is that odd crisis suit team. You could easily adapt it to the new option and put your Shas'o into an infantry unit where he is much safer. 

Sample Build 2 - Cancon 2017
4 XV8 Crisis Battlesuit unit, Shas'o Commander, 2 Gun Drones

CRISIS BATTLESUIT CADRE [325]
Shas'el Commander, 5 XV8 Crisis Battlesuit unit, 2 Gun Drones

CRISIS BATTLESUIT CADRE [325]
Shas'el Commander, 5 XV8 Crisis Battlesuit unit, 2 Gun Drones

ARMOURED SUPPORT GROUP [325]
4 Hammerhead Gunship (Railhead), Skyray

ARMOURED SUPPORT GROUP [325]
4 Hammerhead Gunship (Railhead), Skyray

ARMOURED SUPPORT GROUP [225]
4 Hammerhead Gunship (Railhead)

RECON SKIMMER GROUP [150]
3 Pathfinder Tetra, 2 Piranha

RECON SKIMMER GROUP [150]
3 Pathfinder Tetra, 2 Piranha

BARRACUDA SQUADRON [150]
2 Barracuda Fighters

ORCA ASSAULT DROPSHIP [150]

ORCA ASSAULT DROPSHIP [150]

TIGER SHARK AX-1-0 [175]
1 Tiger Shark AX-1-0

SPACECRAFT [200]
1 Protector Class Cruiser

This was my build from this year's Cancon and although the theory was sound it didn't come together well. The basic principle is to do the real damage with well timed orca drops full of crisis suits but I found it lacked hitting power. Post Cancon I'm experimenting with more supremacy suit artillery support and putting stealth suits in to replace at least 1 crisis team to allow for a better engage hit out of the orca. 

Sample Build 3 - Cancon 2017 
FIRE WARRIOR CADRE [350]
6 Fire Warrior Units, 3 Devilfishes, Cadre Fireblade, Skyray

FIRE WARRIOR CADRE [225]
6 Fire Warrior Units, 3 Devilfishes

XV104 RIPTIDE FORMATION [525]
4 XV104 Riptides, Shas'o Commander

XV104 RIPTIDE FORMATION [350]
3 XV104 Riptides, Shas'el Commander

KX 139 TA'UNAR SUPREMACY [225]
1 KX 139 Ta'unar Supremacy

KX 139 TA'UNAR SUPREMACY [225]
1 KX 139 Ta'unar Supremacy

KX 139 TA'UNAR SUPREMACY [225]
1 KX 139 Ta'unar Supremacy

BARRACUDA SQUADRON [150]
2 Barracuda Fighters

BARRACUDA SQUADRON [150]
2 Barracuda Fighters

TIGER SHARK AX-1-0 [175]
1 Tiger Shark AX-1-0

SUN SHARK SQUADRON [200]
2 Sun Shark Bombers

SPACECRAFT [200]
1 Protector Class Cruiser
Weapons: 2 pin point attacks

This was another build from Cancon this year and did a little better overall than mine. Note that its far more focused on artillery and long range hitting power than orca drop attacks. Lots of air as welll and plenty of heavy armour options with a bit of infantry support too. Ultimately a very different design philosophy but it helps to illustrate the flexibility that Tau can present. 

1 comment:

  1. The Tau can be effective. They need a little practice. You can find my results from MechaniCon at Cold Wars and AdeptiCon results here;
    http://maashes.blogspot.com.ar/2017/03/cold-wars-day-2.html
    http://maashes.blogspot.com.ar/2017/03/adoption-day-5-epic-tourney.html

    ReplyDelete