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Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Army List: Tau Empire 1850 pts All-Suits MSU


Here is another all-suit army list from the new Codex Tau Empire, this time attempting a MSU-style build that did not work too well in the old book.

Viable MSU Tau?

My last Tau list was centred on a big Crisis-star and a Stormsurge, and plenty of Markerlights to maximise Ignores Cover and Destroyer Missiles. This Tau list is instead built around the new Retaliation Cadre Formation supported by the Optimised Stealth Cadre Formation, and distributes its threats MSU-style rather than concentrating it into a couple of big-hitters. This approach has a multitude of benefits that Tau couldn't effectively employ in their last codex.

The strategy for this army is to deploy its Optimised Stealth Cadre into cover then Deep Strike the entire Retaliation Cadre into range of Homing Beacons on your second turn.

The List

I'll start with the list this time, instead of walking-through the whole building process:
Formation: Retaliation Cadre
XV8 Commander with 2x Plasma, Target Lock, Stimulant Injector, Puretide Chip, Iridium Battlesuit, 2x MV7 Marker Drone [199]
1x XV104 Riptide with Ion, Fusion, Early Warning, Velocity Tracker [210]
XV8 Crisis Battlesuits [342]
- Shas'vre with Drone Controller, Command and Control Node, Multi-Spectrum Sensor Suite
- 3x Shas'ui with 2x Plasma, Target Lock
- 8x MV7 Marker Drone
1x XV8 Shas'ui with 2x Fusion [52]
1x XV8 Shas'ui with 2x Fusion [52]
3x XV88 Broadside with Missile Pods, Plasma, Early Warning [225]
Formation: Optimised Stealth Cadre
1x XV95 Ghostkeel with Ion, Fusion, Early Warning, Velocity Tracker [165]
XV25 Stealth Battlesuits [110]
- Shas'vre with Burst Cannon, Homing Beacon
- 2x Shas'ui with Burst Cannon
XV25 Stealth Battlesuits [110]
- Shas'vre with Burst Cannon, Homing Beacon
- 2x Shas'ui with Burst Cannon
Formation: Optimised Stealth Cadre
1x XV95 Ghostkeel with Ion, Fusion, Early Warning, Velocity Tracker [165]
XV25 Stealth Battlesuits [110]
- Shas'vre with Burst Cannon, Homing Beacon
- 2x Shas'ui with Burst Cannon
XV25 Stealth Battlesuits [110]
- Shas'vre with Burst Cannon, Homing Beacon
- 2x Shas'ui with Burst Cannon
The Commander will start joined to the multi-model Crisis squad, and bounce into other squads if he loses his ablative wounds, so this list has a total of twelve manoeuvre elements. That's not a huge number for an 1850 pts list, but it's pretty damn good for a Tau list, especially an all-suit build in which every single model brings at least one special/heavy weapon.

Unit Breakdown

I'm trying a couple of new tricks in this Tau list, specifically mass Stealth Suits and Plasma, neither of which would have made the cut in a competitive list from the old book.

Little Guys

The popular approach to the Optimised Stealth Cadre will likely be minimising the Stealth Suit 'tax' and taking multiple Ghostkeels with Target Locks to maximise their Ignores Cover BS-boosted firepower. But whilst this is a very reasonable approach, the real value of this Formation in this style of army list is its access to multiple Homing Beacons.

Doubling-down on the Optimised Stealth Cadre unlocks four Homing Beacons that Infiltrate into midfield and provides lots of options to the Deep Striking suits from the Retaliation Cadre—remember that while they all arrive at the same time, they are free to arrive in different places, so four Homing Beacons gives you a lot of positioning options!

Medium Guys

One Crisis squad gets a buff-bot, a few shooters and some Marker Drones, but nothing like the big Crisis-star of my last list. Instead of Cyclic Ion Blasters for mass S7, I have opted for Plasma since these guys can easily and safely Deep Strike into double-tap range and make the most of their BS boost and Ignores Cover. The Broadsides, Ghostkeels and Riptides bring plenty of S7 lovin' anyway, so we may as well take the opportunity to play an undervalued weapon and see how it goes!

The Commander is designed to join this Crisis squad, with the same weapon load-out and a couple of his own Marker Drones, plus an Iridium Battlesuit and Feel No Pain to tank wounds from the squad. This guy should be positioned at the front of his squad, backed up by the Drones, and the Crisis Suits at the rear; this way any AP2 wounds that the Commander cannot tank can be redirected to expendable Drones instead of valuable shooters.

The Broadsides get Plasma instead of the traditional SMS, since they will be arriving by Deep Strike and enjoying Relentless within the Retaliation Cadre Formation, and generally playing more like Crisis Suits than their non-Formation brethren. They should therefore have ample opportunity to double-tap with their Plasma—including using Interceptor—and these guys will probably be the beneficiaries of Markerlight buffs most turns.

The other couple of required Crisis squads are solo-suicide-Fusion bots, who either drop into midfield to gank hard targets or into safe positions to bounce between Objectives to score in Maelstrom missions.

Big Guys

The two Ghostkeels and the Riptide have identical loadouts: Ion for S7 utility, Fusion for anti-armour punch, and the good old Skyfire and Interceptor combo for slapping down the Crimson Hunters, Vendettas and Flyrants that would otherwise trouble this list.

Conclusion

This army list feels a lot more satisfying than my last list as a true 'all-suit' build, and is much better than anything possible with the old codex and Farsight supplement. Deep Striking a whole bunch of medium and big suits into midfield, with no risk of scatter, has the potential to be quite devastating against a lot of armies. And it will still work against lists designed to null deploy to avoid such alpha strikes since it auto-arrives on turn two instead of turn one.

Overall, this list is really all about efficient mobile firepower and will require skill to employ effectively, but it may just be the way that Tau finally unlock the benefits of the MSU approach.

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