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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Tau article by Dave Boucher

I played a great game today versus a pure Tau army with my Necron-Grey Knight army. Necrons-Grey Knights won the Adepticon championship this week piloted by Nick Nanavati by the way. I am really excited about Tau and see them as a strong army replacing Imperial Guard as the best shooting army. I don't think Tau lend themselves well though to new players as a lot of thought must go into coordinating the army each turn to yield the best results. Fire Support is really good for example if you do it right. I see Grey Knights as a very strong ally for Tau since they also shoot very well and provide the much needed counter assault element.

Here is a guest article about the new Tau from Dave Boucher who is a fellow club member of the 40k Wrecking Crew.

Now that the Tau Codex has been out for a few weeks, I feel I can make a more objective review of the book. Early reviews of the new codex by myself and my gaming group had a less than positive view of the Tau book. The general view point that we had was the book was marginally better, if better at all, than the previous book. This notion came about from the one major “nerf” of the new Tau codex - the reduction of Broadsides from being S10 AP1 to S8 AP1. The army seemed like it had no new tricks really, but all I can say to that is that I and my friends were misguided.

Before I get into any in-depth thoughts on this book I need to illustrate a few perceptions that I have first. Since sixth edition has dropped I have felt that the game play best represents Epic: Armageddon, which in my opinion is the best rule set GW ever published. This view was never better enacted than with the new Tau Book. The best aspect of each army in Epic is that they play exactly to the fluff. The new Tau Codex does this perfectly. So, just know that the Tau Codex is best played the way Tau fight.

Early Perceptions
When I first got my hands on the book, I immediately looked at what was different and the points. Like most, my first few drafts were all about firepower. Tau are THE shooting army, right? Yes and no. Imperial Guards are about quantity, were as Tau are about the quality. Though I have known this since third edition it is sometimes tough to stay on track and see the nuances in the book right away.

First lesson - Tau will not win the game through sheer might.

Second Thoughts
After the initial ideas proved wrong my next set of ideas was all about tricks. Invisible Farsight Bombs or infiltrating invisible Riptides. Both were novel and could win games but not stand the test in in a competitive environment.

Lesson 2 - Tricks are for kids.

Evolved Ideas
After a series of mind bombs destroying my early perceptions I now have better ideas as to how the army should be played. The best way to describe that is fluidity. The army needs to be able to respond to different threats on the fly. Not in the sense of an all comers list, but more like that of a master surgeon with an extremely sharp Swiss Army Scalpel.

This section will be by far the longest, so stick around.

Tau in previous editions have suffered from a variety of short comings. These mainly consisted of assault and reserve list that Alpha Strike (namely Drop Pods). In the new edition these can be mitigated by the smart commander. First thing we need to do is look at the new rules and wargear available to the Tau. I’m going to skip over supporting fire, as this one is obvious enough. What I want to concentrate on is the following support systems and signature systems:

Early Warning Override
Velocity Trackers
Command and Control Node
Multi-Spectrum Sensor Suite

These items combine to make the biggest difference in the book.

Early Warning Override
This upgrade is simple enough. It allows for Interceptor and this is huge. It allows a unit to have a greater command of the game and serve multi roles. What seals the deal on this one is the 5 point price tag. There is so much to this simple upgrade. This is your anti reserve upgrade and to a lesser extent, anti air. Consider this upgrade on a unit of 3 Broadsides with max missile drones and High Yield Missiles. A unit that deep strikes in, outflanks, or comes on from reserves can be targeted at the end of their movement phase. You can shoot them with either 12 shots from the Missile Pods or 12 from the Smart Missiles. You can only shoot one system as the multi tracker only works in your shooting phase but that is fine.

Consider a drop pod coming in with a dreadnought, you can scrap it right away and then in your next turn target another unit in their turn with their remaining weapons or do it the reverse where you nuke an outflanking genestealer unit with your Smart Missiles and unload your S7 shooting into a Big Bug in your turn. Now consider it on a Riptide were he can unleash a S8 AP2 Large Blast weapon with a range of 72” on a unit coming in from reserve. Kill the squad in the drop pod or those pesky cultists coming on from the board edge. The Riptide being a monstrous creature can shoot both his weapons this way if he chooses to do so - very strong defense.

Velocity Trackers
This one is very straight forward. You can choose to use the skyfire rules when shooting. At 20 points this is certainly expensive. I would only use it sparingly such as Broadsides which makes up for their loss of Slow and Purposeful.

Signature Systems - Command and Control Node and Multi-Spectrum Sensor Suite
These should be used in tandem. Both can be used together and only when you forgo your shooting. The first allows you to reroll your shots and the second ignores cover. Both effect the entire unit. It is important to note that neither can be used in the opposing phase, so no Interceptor or Overwatch with them. They are amazing. A unit of three Crisis Suits with will average the same amount of hits with all equipped with guns or two with guns and 1 with these and these Ignore Cover. I love these upgrades - used correctly they are so deadly and so versatile.

Puretide Engram Neurochip
It is the perfect example of my ideas of being fluid with your Tau force. It allows you to choose Counter Attack, Furious Charge, Tank Hunter, Monster Hunter or Stubborn each turn and these do carry over into the other turn.

These upgrades all work amazingly well together. Let me give you my basic example of what is possible with all of these options. For this example we will have a Commander with the Multi Spectrum Sensor Suite, the Command and Control Node, the Puretide chip, a missile pod, Early Warning Override and a velocity tracker. He will be joined to a unit of Broadsides all with High Velocity Missiles, Early Warning Overrides and six missile drones. In your turn your unit happily kills something, a tank we will say, and in this example your Commander did not shoot so he was able to use all his gear and he choose Tank Hunter via the Puretide chip. In your opponent's turn something comes in from reserves, it can be a flyer or anything for that matter. In this example we will use a much hated flyer. The Commander intercepts and skyfires with two shots, both should hit as they are twin linked and BS5, and the Broadsides shoot 12 twin linked shots twin linked averaging 3.66 hits for a total of 5.66 hits or 6 for the average. Six hits with S7 and Tank Hunter is enough to kill most flyers out there in one snap. So then your turn comes around your Commander can't shoot so he automatically activates his systems again, twin linking those drones and giving them Ignore Cover. Add in the smart missiles and you can kill something else.

The beauty is that with this combo you can potentially kill something every player turn (i.e., yours and your opponent's) so long as he brings in reserves. Your Commander still gets to shoot even though he isn’t shooting during your own turns.

Taking two Broadside units, one with missiles and the other with railguns is an easy evolution for this idea so you can join the Commander to whichever unit is needed.

Lesson 3 - Evolve !

Stay tuned next week as I discuss more about the Tau and look into units and their specific battlefield roles.

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