On Tau

I sent in a video battle report to Yes The Truth Hurts, called Guard Vs Tau, that was published on January 10th.  In the intro, I sorta blithely claimed it was an example of a 5th Edition list Vs a 4th Edition list... and I caught a good deal of flak from both my claim and the content of the video.

So I went back to the drawing board a bit.  I created another video, Daemons Vs White Scars, in which I tried harder to outline useful content, such as the players' thoughts on the game, the tactics and ides used, and the importance of keeping the objective in mind.  Certainly I think it's a better battle report than the one I sent, but that's not the point.

I couldn't get the idea that Tau weren't competitive out of my head.  It was pointed out that the Tau player in my video, aside from being a newbie taking on a veteran, misplayed his deployment... he was beaten pretty bad.  I couldn't help but think that would happen to a Tau player regardless of the list or his experience. 

So I had to test my theory.  I asked Shannon to bring his Guard army in for a match, and I created what I felt was a good, all-comers 1250 Tau list (I didn't want to design a list just to play the army in question).  Here's a synopsis of the 1250 list... the units had the standard Wargear selection.

HQ and Bodyguard, Plasma and Missile Pod, Gun Drone.
2 Suits, Plasma and Missile Pod, Gun Drone.
6 Warriors, Devilfish with Smart Missile System.
6 Warriors, Devilfish with Smart Missle System.
Kroot, 2 Hounds
Broadsides, 2 Gun Drones
Hammerhead w Railgun
Hammerhead w Railgun

Here's a synopsis of Shannon's Guard at 1250...

Command Squad, Plasma Guns, Chimera.
Veterans, Melta Guns, Chimera.
Veterans, Melta Guns, Chimera.
Veterans, Melta Guns, Chimera.

The Tau have been in a box for years and are in pretty bad shape - in fact, the suits aren't put together and were laying on the bases.  While this is fine in a pick-up game like this, I didn't think it was great for a full blown video.  Besides, I wanted this game to be a good test and didn't want the distraction of shooting clips.

I'll cut to the chase: I was very, very wrong.  The Tau won the game and were far from outmatched, like I thought they would be - in fact, they more than held their own in the shooting department.  Where I had problems was later in the game, trying to find resources to camp objectives properly.  I've included some pictures, one each from each phase of the game, plus the deployment. 

Do I think this game proves something on a large scale?  No, I made that mistake with my video, painting one game with a broad brush.  But I've satisfied myself that the Tau, if listed and used properly, are a viable army in this current era.  While they'd have problems against certain matchups, what army doesn't?  It's the nature of the beast.

It's important not to rest on assumptions, but to continue to test theories and try to approach something close to truth.


slxiii said...

Tau are a great army, however your win came as totally unexpected to me after seeing your list and your opponents. I suppose you couldn't elaborate on your opponents skill level as compared to yours?

Kroxitau said...

Yea that would be helpful. As a Tau player I don't think that Tau are underpowered, I just think they suffer from a below average player base versus something like marines that a ton of people play. You have to play Tau like Tau, you can't make a SM-like Tau army and then try to play Tau like that.

Your army list that you used was pretty basic, however Tau function extremely well when you are fully mech, then everything in your army can move 12" every turn (JSJ with the suits)

just some thoughts


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Evil Homer said...

I was the Guard Player. I consider myself an above-average skill player (sounds arrogant but it is what it is) and am certainly one of Brent's tougher regular opponents.

My list is my standard 1250. Brent took first turn and manage to nail 1 vendetta and shake the other. I could not make a 4+ on a vehicle. His kroot came in on time and on the correct side to effectively neutralize my manticore's. I was pretty much on my heels from turn one on.

I think if I had on 1st turn things might have been different at least I would had the chance to nuke the broasides and 1 of the rail heads.

The tau list has certain built in advantages in a mech environment, cheap and easy access to str 10 range weapons being the most important. JSJ movement to get into and out of cover. Piranha's. There are many good choices in the list.

If you start losing your heavy firepower though generally your troops are not good enough to win or even draw a game.

A strong Tau list with a good general is going to give most armies fits.

Kroxitau said...

Were you playing annihilation, C&C or Seize ground?

Evil Homer said...

Furthermore deployment is the area of my game I struggle with the most. I am still a relatively new Guard player, having only played them for 2ish months now. 20 games (~16-2-2) or so.

I am learning something new about deployment almost every time my guard hit the table. Once I have it all straight in my head I think it will be even better.

Finally there are still 1 or 2 things about my list I'm not completely happy about but that is my nature, in my head and on the table I can't really argue with the list I am fielding. I just can't be completely happy with it either.

I kind of wish I had some AV14 in there or a way to deny cover saves...

Evil Homer said...

5 objectives, 1 center, 1 in the center of each quarter. Quarter deployment. 4x4 table.

As close to the old alpha cleanse as you can get in 5th ed.

Kroxitau said...

Interesting. I have not played against IG as much as Nids, Orks, Chaos, Necrons, and SM, but i have checked out their codex, they can do a lot of different things.

I agree that deployment is key, and plus, you don't have to wipe out the enemy army, just eliminate their ability to score, you only have to win by one point.

There is a tournament here in Minneapolis on the 30th, so I will probably be facing some guard there, it's always interesting to see what people are doing with the IG codex.

Brent said...

In our local area, everyone is building new armies, moving up in points each month. Tau isn't mine; I used it for this game. Shannon's Guard is, in my opinion, the toughest list running. I'd agree re: his deployment; I think it's fairly standard but sometimes suffers from being a bit timid, as it was in the game.

I think first turn is important for armies like this, but regardless of that I felt my armies had the weapons I needed. The pictures don't tell much about the game, which I thought was top notch. Shannon was on his back foot from the beginning but almost fought his way back. As it was, he came close to drawing.

With the Tau, I played very safe. Given that I had the speed to quickly re-mobilize as needed, I stayed hunkered behind my cover fir the first part of the game. The suits jumped up for shots then back out of sight. The Manticores were a threat but the Kroot kept them busy.

I'm curious what an experienced Tau player would field at 1250; I thought my army was good, fielding 3 Heavy and 3 useful troops, as well as the all-important Suits. I didn't note the Wargear dispersion; if that's important for the discussion I can certainly do so.

My favorite piece of kit was the Wargear on the vehicles that allows for the save at range over 12 inches... pardon me, but I'm shaky on the details this late.

Cheers - Brent

Kroxitau said...

At 1250 I would take something like this:

Shas'el twin-linked Missile pods, and positional relay, shield drone, +2 armor save

3x 6 fire warriors in devilfish with disruption pods (that's the +4 cover save at range greater than 12")

1 squad of 2 fireknives

1 squad of 2 deathrains

1 squad of 5 pathfinders in devilfish with Disruption pod

2 railheads with multitracker and disruption pod.

Opt to try and take second turn, especially versus guard, reserve everything except the HQ. Bring in hammerhead on 2nd turn, as far away from enemy as possible, target transports or artillery, bring in second hammerhead on turn 3 same as above, bring in pathfinders on turn 4 set up so that the devilfish has LOS to your drop zones(you can re-roll scatter dice when DS in pathfinder devilfish LOS) for suits to come down near cover, everything comes in on turn 5, in kill point missions try to kill as many things as possible, in C&C or seize ground last minute contest on objectives and try to get a hold of one objective, since you only need 1 more than your opp to win.

This strategy is basic kill point denial, it's not the only thing you can do with this list, but it is a simple and effective one.

Positional relay is key to preventing your units from coming into play until the very last turn, and if you went second it will be hard for your opponent to respond to your last minute strike, even if the game goes to 6, or 7, you still get the last word and should be at an advantage.


Kroxitau said...

Brent: Ya disruption pods are ridiculously good, especially considering they have such a cheap price tag.

Anonymous said...

See what you learn when you toss stuff up for peer review?

Good bat rep, the fact that you went back play this game, and that you listened and acted on the constructive criticism from YTTH speaks volumes for your character.

good job.

Evil Homer said...

I was glad to give Brent the game given I felt Tau were viable vs his opinion they weren't. I think games like this, where you get a chance to rethink an entrenched idea, allow you to grow as a player.

@Krox: I think the all reserve game is a recipe for drawing, not winning. I feel that way when eldar do it as well. At higher points, guard have options to play the same game and influence your reserves as well. I think firepower on the table is generally the way to go. I remain open to the possibility that I am wrong on this though.

@Freefall05: Brent is a stand up guy, I know the criticism he caught forced him to evaluate some things. I think its good for him and for those of us who play against him often.

The whole point of this little exercise we are doing locally is to become better players, to drag are less skilled players up, and to be exposed to as many quality armies as we can. It has reinvigorated 40k in our store, we have gone from maybe 1-2 games a night in the store to 5-6 games. More people, more action, more sales for the store owner. Win for everyone.

Big Whit said...

True, this whole thing has been for the greater good.

Kroxitau said...

Evil homer!!!!!
Where do you guys play? I am in minneapolis but it is always fun to play different people.

I don't always reserve my army, but against shooty IG I would.

Since I started using the positional relay in prep for an upcoming tournament I have played versus a chaos oblit/lash army, ravenwing, jetbike eldar, a weird eldar, and a new nid list, and blood angels (my friend used the jawaballs list)

The only one I lost was jetbike eldar. This is against people that I normally play though, and I know what they are thinking. I will post battle reports on my blog from the tournament on this upcoming 30th of Jan, so it will be interesting to see how my tactic fairs against a greater amount of people.

I do have a post already up on my blog about using the positional relay and why I like it.

Hopefully my tactics will be successful at the tournament:) but we will see.


Kroxitau said...

I know the guard have a dude that disrupts reserves, how does that interact with positional relay bringing in one unit on +2?

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