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Analysis: Astra Militarum in 8th Ed, HQ Units

Let's analyse the HQ options available to Astra Militarum . Like all my reviews, this will be from a competitive play perspective, ...

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Army List: Tau 1850 pts Counterpoint


After ranting about how far the once-might Tau Empire has fallen, here is an 1850 pts Tau army list in counterpoint. There is nothing really 'unconventional' in this list, it simply aims to shoot efficiently with just enough mobility to scrape through Maelstrom missions. It would face an uphill battle against Eldar Craftworlds and Necrons—and to a lesser extent Space Marines and Imperial Knights—but it is more than capable of dominating the 'middle-tier' of competitive 40k.
Combined Arms Detachment: Tau Empire
HQ
Commander with Drone Controller, Vectored Retro-Thrusters, Command and Control Node, Iridium Battlesuit, Multi-Spectrum Sensor Suite and Puretide Chip, 2x Marker Drone [197]
Elites
3x Crisis Suits with 2x Missile Pod and Target Lock, 6x Marker Drone [243]
2x Crisis Suits with 2x Fusion Blaster and Flamer [114]
2x Crisis Suits with 2x Fusion Blaster and Flamer [114]
Troops
10x Kroot, 1x Hound [65]
10x Kroot, 1x Hound [65]
Heavy Support
Skyray with Blacksun Filter and Disruption Pod [131]
Skyray with Blacksun Filter and Disruption Pod [131]
Formation: Firebase Support Cadre
Riptide with Ion Accelerator, Fusion, Early Warning, Stim Injector [225]
3x Broadsides with Railguns, SMS and Target Locks, 6x Missile Drones [282]
3x Broadsides with Railguns, SMS and Target Locks, 6x Missile Drones [282]
1849 pts
Compared to a lot of Tau lists I see, this one has:

  • A very potent alpha strike capability (twelve Seeker Missiles)
  • Decent anti-AV14 (Tank Hunter Railguns)
  • Reasonable threat distribution (six shooter squads)
The Commander joins the Missile Crisis Suits to give them Twin-Linked and Ignores Cover, and to boost eight Marker Drones up to BS5. The intent for this squad is to get seven or eight Marker hits on a key enemy unit on turn one, then add a few more Marker hits with your two Skyrays, then launch their twelve Seeker Missiles to erase said key unit. This works really well on tough(ish) units that rely on a 3+ armour save or Jink to keep them alive—Marine Bikes and Eldar Jetbikes are a prime target. Meanwhile your Ignores Cover Missiles split fire into other targets. If they get assaulted in midfield you have I4 Hit And Run to [maybe] save you...

The Fusion Crisis Suits either Deep Strike in to gank a hard target (e.g. a Knight) or they jetpack into midfield and generally threaten enemy armour and Monsters. They also have flamers to threaten enemy infantry, but mainly to provide Wall of Death since they will be exposed to assault.

The Kroot Outflank and try to snatch Objectives in the enemy deployment zone—don't forget they have both Acute Senses and Objective Secured to help them in this role. They are also good speedbumps to steal a turn of mobility from key enemy units.

After the Skyrays have blown their money shot of Seekers on turn one, they become your solution to Flyers and Flying Monsters; put a few Marker hits on your target then nuke it with a Snap Firing Crisis or Broadside squad. Alternatively, they provide Marker hits to buff your Broadsides squads (specifically Missile Drone BS).

The single Riptide is there to support the Fusion Crisis Suits in midfield and also threatens armour, plus it has the good old Interceptor pie plate—not as awesome as it was in 6th Ed, but still an effective deterrent to Deep Strike into open ground.

The Broadsides have Railguns—OMG!!!shift1! While lacking the raw-efficiency of Missiles, they can't be outranged (very important for static shooters), and free Tank Hunter from being part of a Firebase Support Cadre makes them very good at dropping Knights, and even decent against AV14. Plus they force Flying Monsters to Jink when combined with Skyrays.

The Broadside squads also have Missile Drones, so they actually fire just as many S7 shots as a 'normal' Broadside squad would anyway. They really benefit from the Marker Light BS boost, so use them in synergy with the Missile Crisis Suits and Skyrays. I honestly don't know why this squad configuration is not seen more often.

So what do you think? Can Tau (without Knights) do any better than this?

21 comments:

  1. I have doubts about "Decent anti-AV14". Sure 4 melta shoots from with crissis can do a lot of damage but railgun brodsides are not really threating for AV14 even with tank hunter it would do 1 glancing per salvo(without markerlight support). And with adeptus mechanicus, plasma calivers new SM with drop and charge and drop and grav guns I would say that Brodsides are very vulnerable targets.
    Aslo I have doubts about Flamers on crissis suits, I think that if someone manage to assault at them wall of death would not change anything.
    I'm not good at modifying army list so I would not propose any changes:(.
    But I have doubts about survivability of this Army.
    If you put crissis and kroot in reserves then all the hate by default will go to those precious units on the table(except skyrays, if you start game and make alpha strike enemy will have them low in target priority) and you can really get very heavy losses from those low AP weapons.
    It is possible that this is just my doubts that have source in the play style that dominate my region in with players tend to mass heavy weapons that can insta kill crissis(and not always you can jump back so the enemy will not have option to shoot at you) or just have very low AP.
    And against spam of drop pods (hate those when play with tau) you really will be hitted hard and after alpha strike of drop pods you will have hard time wining game with this build IMO.
    And I'm not saying that this is bad, I just saying I feel it is quite risky build.

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  2. You have some good points, and while I broadly agree (that's why Tau are less competitive) I will address a few of your points:


    I think "decent" is a fair descriptor for this list's capability to kill AV14. Taking 1 or 2 HP per turn with the Broadsides, at long range, starting first turn, is actually pretty useful. How many HP of AV14 do you expect to face? Popping a Land Raider or Medium Fort on turn two without using your melta is "decent" in my book.


    Something I forgot to mention in the post was that the Drones in the Missile Crisis and Broadside squads are also a very good counter against Grav weapons—majority armour save 4+ makes Grav a lot less effective against your suits.


    Wall of Death will not win you assaults, but you may be overlooking its usefulness—you will kill 1 or 2 Marines (more Xenos) with your Wall of Death, which may be enough to make a medium-long range charge fail, and keep your Crisis un-locked. Plus being able to template light infantry is handy if there are no hard targets to hunt.


    You are right that this is not a tough build, like triple-Riptide for example. But this list is shooty and mobile and should be tough enough (with intelligent play) against a lot of armies. If you think your local environment will be hard for this build then I would suggest dropping one Fusion Crisis squad and adding a Void Shield Generator in their place—that adds a lot of resilience, especially against Pod and other alpha strikes. Void Shields also completely neuter Grav, so if you are expecting to face Grav spam without supporting melta then you just might upset a few Marine players with a VSG ;-)

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  3. Ok you are right I totally forgot about drones as protection for brodside's, this give them a little bit of the edge id DP will be from side when you have few drones(because if you wrap them from all directions they will not tank much). But it helps, sometimes a lot.

    As for brodside... 2HP it requires some luck espesially if vech have cover, realistic scenario is 1HP and this is not very much. And than it is rather 3-4 turns with dont look so good anymore.

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  4. I mentioned about friend of mine build that have some success on my local tornaments. I post it here so maybe some one will have also any luck with it;-) (maybe late I'll post my build but I still did not used it agains eldars and necrons).

    Tau "Mech Commandress" 1850pt

    Tau Commander+Neuroweb+2 Fusion Blasters+Drone Controller+Target Lock= 130pt

    XV104 Riptide with Ion and TW SMS+ Early Warrining Override+ Stimulant Injector= 225pt

    XV104 Riptide with Ion and TW SMS+ Early Warrining Override+ Velocity Tracker= 210pt

    3x XV8 Crissis 2xFusion Blaster+ Target lock each + 6 Marker Drones=243

    10x Kroot+ Sniper Rounds+Kroot Hound=75pt

    10x Kroot+ Sniper Rounds+Kroot Hound=75pt

    Barracuda Air Supperiority Fighter + 3x Seeker Missle+ Decoy Launchers + Disrutpion Pod 172pt

    XV109 Y'Vahra= 230pt

    XV109 Y'Vahra= 230pt

    XV107 R'varna Battlesuit 260pt

    ReplyDelete
  5. The Drones don't need to be the closest models, they just need to outnumber the Suits to make Grav wound on a 4+ instead of a 2+ or 3+.

    Giving Ignores Cover to the Broadsides should not be hard...

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  6. Sorry to hijack here, keen for your space marheen Dex analysis...

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  7. I hadn't thought of missile drone spam as a counter to grav weapons! Very nice ^^ Too bad shielded missile drones are the same T6 as a Riptide ... and failing a morale test after you lose one of those would be really inconvenient.
    I've been using a Fire Warrior squad in a Devilfish, since I read something that said vehicles got buffed going into 7th edition and that seemed like the most mobile way to get objective secured. I'm guessing they aren't as good as I thought they were though. ^^; And I've been meaning to get some Kroot Hounds.
    Is the Alpha Strike necessary? It looks like it's mostly a counter against superheavies and would kind of fizzle against MSU ... although even then you could go for a warlord kill maybe.

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  8. Shielded Missile Drones work just the same, they have a 4+ armour save which means that Grav weapons will need a 4+ To Wound the Riptide unit ;-)



    Objective Secured Vehicles are very good to have in 7th Ed, but the Devilfish is a bad example, because it (and the unlocking FW squad) are both quite expensive and quite useless beyond having Objective Secured. I see Objective Secured as a great rule to have on good units, but I don't like taking bad units just to get Objective Secured.


    The Seeker Missile alpha strike is not essential, but it is a nice tool to have available, especially if you use it to get you the First Blood 1VP. It is particularly good for killing SM Bike squads, and every one of those you nuke before it Gravs you is a big win!

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  9. It's a work in progress; it won't be as detailed as my Craftworlds analysis, because the book is just too large for that!

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  10. That looks reasonable. Like all multi-Riptide builds, it will be very effective against a lot of armies, but will lose very quickly to D weapons.

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  11. If I am honest what this list does is to make your own point that Tau are not really competitive any more.

    With some nasty drop-pod lists around (Skitarii, Space Marines especially the new formation) a list with a fairly low model count like this needs more than one model with Interceptor. That lone riptide is good but it will not be enough. There is no really easy fix for this, adding in more EWO - and losing target locks in the process - will detract from its ability to put out firepower efficiently and then it just gets out-shot by Eldar and Necrons and out-scored by Marines.

    As it stands I believe Tau need to focus on the remaining areas where they have tricks that are perhaps not as commonly seen as the pure firepower gunline approach. The Tau codex still has plenty of deployment tricks with infiltrate/outflank/deep strike options. While broadsides will either be outranged (HYMP) or outgunned (HRR) by Eldar scatterbikes a unit outflanking onto the Eldar table edge can catch those bikes out and hurt them. Similarly Tau have better access to Interceptor than any other army, that gives them options against drop pod armies that others lack. Their skyfire options are well known and I would not willingly drop the skyrays from your list. I think what i am getting at is that for the time being Tau need to be fundamentally a counter-meta "spoiler" army with some unexpected twists that might catch out TAC opponents to pick up the odd extra win that gets closer to the top tables.

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  12. Good points, and I'm glad it does reinforce for you that Tau are no longer a top tier Faction.

    Building a spoiler list is certainly possible, but I don't really think it's worthwhile. DE have long been a spoiler Faction, but that doesn't matter since they never get close enough to tournament top tables to steal a meaningful win.

    And I think the new Dark Angels just might steal the title for 'best Interceptor' Faction in the very near future...

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  13. Perhaps I worded that badly, what I was thinking more of was a solid list with a spoiler twist.

    The top player in the ITC last year had a basically solid Tau list but by using Tetras as his prime markerlight platform he also got lots of crazy deployment tricks which won him games by doing something unexpected. That Ninja Tau list is an example of the sort of twist that Tau players might need to find in their codex to keep opponents off balance.

    What I do not think is still viable is the attempt to merely make the Tau more efficient at shooting than any other army, right now they do not have what it takes to go head to head with some of the stronger codexes out there.

    If rumours are true the crowns for best interceptor and overwatch may pass to DA this week. I honestly can't find it in my heart to begrudge this, DA players have had a hard time and deserve something decent.

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  14. I don't think Markers are their biggest limitation, efficient S8+ is the problem.

    Don't be misled by the ITC. The ITC is a contrivance and is of little relevance to 40k. When you artificially limit/ban Supers, deathstars, and D weapons you make life very easy for Tau—they no longer have hard targets or hard counters to their Riptides. And ITC missions are easier for Tau than Maelstrom.

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  15. I used to run a list like this. It just doesn't have enough of the tools I needed to beat Admantine Lances and some other popular codices. I blogged about the development of my latest tau evolution here: http://www.torrentoffire.com/7058/if-you-build-it-things-will-die

    Now, with the advent of SM and DA mass obsec and free heavy weapon transports, I'd probably need to swap one (or both maybe) of my commander and drones, for a etherial in a pathfinder devil fish and get some sniper kroot, and probably some vespids for high volume AP3 Fire. I would probably just use 3 suit units with target locks and a drone controller. Anyway, you need to be able to shoot marines off objectives so you need to max ap3, not miss, and take away cover. It's hard with the tools we have right now.

    Here was my list before the release of SM and DA:
    HQ CAD 1
    Commander (Drone controller, 2x Marker Drones) 117 pts

    TROOPS
    3x Crisis team (3x Flamer, Fusion gun, Early Warning Override) 144 pts
    1x Crisis team (1x Flamer, Fusion gun, Early Warning Override) 48 pts
    1x Crisis team (1x Flamer, Fusion gun, Early Warning Override) 48 pts
    1x Crisis team (1x Flamer, Flamer, Early Warning Override) 38 pts

    FAST ATTACK
    4 Marker Drones 56 pts
    4 Marker Drones 56 pts
    3 Tetra Speeders 105 pts

    HEAVY SUPPORT
    Skyrays 115 pts
    Skyrays 115 pts
    Skyrays 115 pts

    HQ CAD 2
    Commander (Drone controller, 2x Marker Drones) 117 pts

    TROOPS
    3x Crisis team (3x Flamer, Fusion gun, Early Warning Override) 144 pts
    1x Crisis team (1x Flamer, Fusion gun, Early Warning Override) 48 pts
    1x Crisis team (1x Flamer, Fusion gun, Early Warning Override) 48 pts
    1x Crisis team (1x Flamer, Flamer, Early Warning Override) 38 pts

    FAST ATTACK
    4 Pathfinders /w Recon Drone (positional relay, homing beacon) 76 pts
    4 Pathfinders /w Recon Drone (positional relay, homing beacon) 76 pts

    HEAVY SUPPORT
    Skyrays 115 pts
    Skyrays 115 pts
    Skyrays 115 pts

    Remember, if your SM opponent gets to make you go first, you get a turn of no shooting because when you're first on turn 1 there's nobody to shoot because he's podding in at the bottom of turn 1. Hopefully we get new tools when the new tau codex drops. Im probably bringing a SM or DA army to NOVA.

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  16. Charlie and what you think about Orks with current edition, espesially orks that don't use the stompa? Are they competitive or suitable for MSU?

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  17. Imagine 10 Trukks moving 12" gaining complete Board Control and 240 (80 hits) S4 Shots hitting the enemy and a 2nd Turn Charge of 120 Orks (or whtever is left).

    1230 Points... I would call that suitable for MSU

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  18. I think Orks would MSU better with Troop Warbikes, unlocked by that Imperial Armour character... I'll have a think about an army list and post something for you.

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  19. Hi Voorhees, I think there is some merit in mass Skyrays while Jetbikes and Marine Bikes are popular, but this style of list has some serious vulnerabilities.

    Mass infantry will roll over this list very easily. A scattering of flamers on fragile shooters is not enough to save it.

    This list is very inefficient against anything with 2+ save, an invul, or T5+ multi-wounds. Centurions, Wraiths, and Kataphrons will all be hard targets. Against other Tau, a Firebase Cadre will hard counter your list. You can kill Jetbikes or Wraithknights, but not really both.



    I expect Mechdar to resurge once the bandwagoners realise that Jetbikes (and Marine Bikes) are very vulnerable to Daemonkin Helldrakes. It takes 10 Seeker Missiles to kill one Eldar tank with Holo-Fields, so this list will only kill half a Mechdar list before it becomes dependent on fragile solo Fusion Suits, which a competent player with mitigate with positioning.


    So while it's an interesting list, I think it's too finely tailored to be successful in longer (4+ round) tournaments in which you would probably meet a hard counter. But that is really a common problem for all Tau lists these days.

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  20. How about this for MSU Orks?

    Ork Horde Detachment
    HQ
    Zhadsnark Da Rippa
    Painboy, Warbike, 3x Grot Orderly
    Troops
    14x Warbike, Nob with Claw and Boss Pole
    4x Warbike, Nob with Claw
    4x Warbike, Nob with Claw
    4x Warbike, Nob with Claw
    4x Warbike, Nob with Claw
    4x Warbike, Nob with Claw
    4x Warbike, Nob with Claw
    4x Warbike, Nob with Claw
    4x Warbike, Nob with Claw
    Fast Attack
    4x Warbuggy with Rokkit Launcha
    4x Warbuggy with Rokkit Launcha
    4x Warbuggy with Rokkit Launcha


    That's 165 S5 shots per turn, plus 12 S8 AP3 shots, all twin-linked BS2. The big squad has Scout and FNP. All those bikes allow you to absolutely dominate in board control.


    Killing heavy armour will be a challenge (normal for Orks) since you are reliant on small(ish) quantity of S8 shooting and melee attacks, but mobility and board control will allow you to win without killing all the hard targets.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Broadly, Orks have a lot of problems that keep them from being competitive, primarily lack of quality firepower and resilient mobility. Big hordes of basic infantry that are only really good at killing other basic infantry does not really work in a competitive environment.

    One cool thing you could try with Orks is to include a Steel Host Formation as a bunch of 'Looted' Tanks. That could add a lot of quality firepower to an Ork list, and you would be able to bubble-wrap them quite well (from 6" away). And 'Looted' Imperial Knights help Orks a lot. But as a pure Faction, Orks are a third-tier army.

    ReplyDelete