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Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Few, The Proud... The Elites PT3 (Crisis Teams: Duos)

Duos are odd little Crisis Teams. They can bring enough firepower to make good use of Markerlights while still remaining cheap and expendable (and thus still a good candidate for deepstrike). In addition, the use of Target Locks can make a cheap squad do damage far beyond their cost.
Duos are used in an almost identical way to Monats; cheap units are dropped to where your opponent wants them least, burning or smashing things in their wake. Alternatively, you are reaching the level of firepower where suits that hang back and use Markerlights and Missiles effectively enough to actually do something at range.

Because of the similarity, I will not be posting effective builds here, as they are the same as for Monats, mostly. I will be however, remarking on three things; Wound allocation, Target locks, and Drone support.

Wound allocation comes into play when Crisis Teams become larger. The essence of wound allocation can be found in the BRB (Big Red Book AKA the core rulebook), but it is worth summarizing how it works here.
If a unit has multiple multi-wound models that are identical, then any wounds that are placed on the unit are saved normally, and unsaved wounds are allocated on models so that none can be placed on others until the first wounded model is removed.
Wordy? Not done yet.
If these models differentiate in any way, then the the wounds are allocated before saves are made. In addition, you can place wounds on whoever you want, meaning that a Crisis Suit with one wound remaining can be spared the worst of the fire, or can be sacrificed to an Instant Death! attack to save the models with more than one wound left.
This is useful for Crisis Suits, as you can make it so that you can take more wounds than normal before losing a model (and thus firepower).
To do this, the Suits must be different in some way. This could be as simple as making one a Team Leader or giving the two suits slightly different equipment. Target locks are effective for this, as they give an effectiveness boost and also add diversity in the unit.

The second thing to learn is why and how to use Target Locks in Duo Team. Consider the firepower and threat of two identical Sunforge Battlesuits in a unit. They can drop down and pop a single tank, and then will likely suffer enough return fire to kill them. They may flame infantry if no tanks present themselves.
A unit of Sunforges with one model replacing their flamer witha Target Lock costs one point more, and has the potential to kill two vehicles, if the opportunity presents itself. In addition, it has wound allocation.

The final thing worth noting is Drone Support. Buying Drones for something this cheap and expendable doesn't sit right with me, personally. I normally reserve Drone Support for large squads, as an investment of that size needs protection.

That's all for now. I'll have three man teams up as soon as I can.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Few, The Proud... The Elites PT2 (Crisis Teams: Monats)

The Crisis Teams are the iconic weapon-bearers of the Tau Army, sporting many forms of special weapons. They are also the cement of your army, filling in any cracks in your offensive power and solidifying an offensive core.
Crisis Teams are a complex subject, involving many layers of strategy and tactics, and to ease the strain of writing on myself and sifting/reading for you all, I'm splitting this into multiple posts. And so we go.

Monat refers to a Crisis Suit that is alone, fighting without squadmates or drone support, normally bearing the weight of a suicide mission. Monats are rather simple; they are cheap units that carry effective special weapons and it doesn't mean much if they die; they shouldn't cost more than 70 points apiece anyways.
Effective Monat Builds include:
Heatwave (TL-Flamer, BSF) -34
Cheapest possible suit of all time; Deepstrike it in and roast someone. It will die to rapidfire or assault. End of discussion.
Toasterboy (TL-Flamer, MP) -43
A slightly upgraded version of the Heatwave, sporting a Missile Pod thatwill allow it to move upfield to its target, or as a secondary if Deepstrike goes askew and lands away from the original target.
Sunforge AKA "Suicide Suit" (TL-FB, Flamer) -47
This is the standard suicide suit, dropping from the sky hoping to get close to anything, flaming infantry and melting tanks, only to die in a torrent of fire and fists. Burn bright, not long.
Deathrain (TL-MP, Flamer) -47
A suit to jump around and annoy at range. Anti-light vehicle with a flair for setting infantry on fire.
Fireforge (MP, FB, MT) -54
My personal favorite Monat, filling in for quick, effective anti-vehicle for those who don't attempt to squeeze in expensive railguns at low point levels.
Helios AKA "Forgeknife" (PR, FB, MT) -62
Anti-heavy infantry, anti-tank. Deepstrikes to deliver melta and rapidfire plasma and annoy or distract opponents. A little on the expensive side.
Fireknife (PR, MP, MT) -62
Anti-light vehicle, a flair of anti-heavy infantry. Long ranged, and use of cover can make it worth its points.

This is it for now. I'll be back with two man team tactics soon.

The Few, The Proud... The Elites PT 1 (The Stealth Team)

There are only two Elite choices in the Tau codex; The Crisis Team and the Stealth Team.

The Stealth Team is infinitely worse offensively and defensively than the Crisis team. If I were to take three Crisis Shas'ui with Twin-linked Burst Cannons and a Black Sun Filter (not that I would) it would run me 120 points. Compare this to 4 Stealth Shas'ui with Burst Cannons.

The Stealth Team hits 50% of its shots, meaning you will average 6 hits. The Crisis Team hits 75% of the time, meaning that while it has relatively few shots, its total hits will average 6.75.

On the defense, the Crisis Team has a higher toughness, increasing the survivability from all small arms significantly. The Crisis Team also has a larger amount of total wounds. The Stealth Team has a Stealth Field Generator, but at 18" away (the amount of distance that would be between a infantry unit and the Stealth team, including Stealths jumping back and infantry moving forward) the Stealth Field will fail to work 58% of the time; meaning that you will get gunned down rather quickly by what you tried to shoot up.

Where the Stealth Team excels, however, is its deployment options. With the ability to Deepstrike, Infiltrate, and Outflank, the Stealth Team, can get themselves exactly where your opponent doesn't want them. This makes their otherwise puny offensive abilities much better; they can hit isolated units, make attack runs at objective, or hit rear armor of a pesky vehicle; An AV12 or higher front armored vehicle with AV10 rear or side can be much better killed by outflanking Stealths with Burst Cannons, better than by an points-equivalent amount of Deathrains (TL-MP, random item).

Another optin while using the Stealth Team is to drop a great many points on them to turn them into a Stealth Marker Team. This requires Drone Controllers with Marker Drones, minimal team members, and maybe a Team Leader with a Markerlight. The idea is that while this unit is far more expensive than Pathfinders, their mobile Markerlights (due to the Relentless USR) and their Stealth Field coupled with the effective range of their lights and infiltration abilities makes them very difficult to kill, almost ensuring Markerlights all game long.

Stealth Teams deliver a punch of small-arms fire where you need them, or scout out targets for the main force. Try them in your lists.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Speeding Up

The Battleforce also lacks a form of Fast Attack; meaning that you'll have to get some yourself if you want to use anything.

I've already toldyou how to convert spare Fire Warriors into Pathfinders, so that should be of little concern.

I do not recommend the use of Vespid, and Gun Drones (while severly underestimated) are not recommended either. The latter is usable, but their effectiveness is mostly as an annoyance unit, meaning that they are not that great to take until you've filled your other points with Scorers, Railguns, and Crisis Suits.

That leaves us the use of Piranhas.

Piranhas are useful in a wierd way to the Tau army as they don't bring a lot of firepower, and because of this their mobility seems rather useless; I can bring one Fusion Blaster and Targetting Array there for 70 points? And they seem rather fragile compared to most other vehicles. Weakest possible armor on the side and rear and overpriced compared to Landspeeders, as well as poorly armed in comparison.
So why use Piranhas? Because they make excellent roadblocks. Piranha roadblocks can be used in two ways; the Swordfish and the School of Piranhas.

The Swordfish tactic is simple; A piranha with a Fusion Blaster and Targetting Array rushes the enemy and parks directly in front of the enemy's vanguard vehicle, moving flat-out. The enemy can attempt to destroy it in his shooting phase, but the movement prior will be slowed by him circumventing your vehicle. If your vehicle lives, then you can hop to the enemy's rear armour and fire your meltagun, or plop down in front again.

The School of Piranhas uses two or more Piranhas (two are a cheap annoyance; three or more are a tank murdering unit that should be feared). Each Piranha is armed with a Fusion Blaster (you could use Burst Cannons, but I feel they are a waste of the Piranha), Targetting Array, Flechettes, and some should have Target Locks. The strategy begins the same as the Swordfish; rush a tank, block path, melta and then annoy. But this becomes much more effective; the space taken up by two Piranhas is enough to waste entire turns of movement, and three or more can easily block mulitple units. In addition, the Target Locks will allow you to attempt melta on multiple vehicles; an extremely useful ability. Finally, the Flechettes will allow you to block off infantry paths; putting them between you and an offending unit will force them to move around. Assaulting them will not help your opponent either, as the Flechettes will tear light infantry apart, while hurting even the heavier ones (two Flechettes in a squadron while statistically wound every model in the assaulting unit! That means only 5 Boyz from a full 30 man mob will live, or you can shred about three Marines from a full Tacsquad if they attempt to grenade your Piranhas to death). In addition, when moved at cruising or flatout speeds, the enemy needs 6s to even hit the vehicle, which is easily failed.

If you are having trouble stemming an enemy rush, try using Piranhas in your list; from popping mech to Flechetting hordes, these models can annoy or kill any would be threat.

Bringing in the Heavies

One of the constants in the Battleforce lists are their reliance on Crisis Suits for anti-tank. This can be the route you take, but the Tau are unique in that they carry the best long-ranged anti-tank weapon in the game; the Railgun.
Fortunately for everyone else, Railguns can't be crammed into every corner of our lists; only our heavy support. So here will be talking of our two Railgun toting Heavies.
The Hammerhead makes a very effective use of the Railgun if equipped (minimally) with a Disruption Pod and a Multitracker. This allows it durability at a range and the ability to move 12" before firing the Railgun, which is useful for side armor hunting. It can be used to tank shock objectives later in the game. It also can fire an anti-infantry round.
Broadsides are slower, but put out much more firepower. They are slightly more accurate then a Hammerhead, and with the use of Shield Drones and cover they become more durable to shooting (if easy to wipe in assault). You can get two Railguns for the price of one mounted one, and the SMS deal quite a bit of damage as well; I actually find myself firing said weapons far more often in the later phases of the game.

Which should you get first? Buying a Hammerhead model is cheaper than buying two Broadsides, and keeps mobility in your army. Broadsides, however, clearly put out more anti-tank firepower... but is the damage output worth the speed sacrifice and the additional chassis? Its your choice overall; I run both in high-points.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

2 Battleforces (1000pts)

While a usable 500 point army can be made from a Battlebox, a decent 1000 point army can be made from two boxes.

First come the Troops; Again we start with the base of Fire Warriors riding in a durable Devilfish, but with the extras we can have two squads. As above, the choice to take Rifles or Carbines is yours, but again I recommend Rifles.

8x Shas'la (Rifles) -80 pts
8x Shas'la (Rifles) -80 pts
The trick in the prior list of taking the Devilfish that come with the Pathfinder squads is used her again... with a quick catch discussed later. Redundancy (use of the same unit multiple time) makes it more difficult for the enemy to blunt your offensive tankrush.

Next we have the Krootses (not actual plural). Kroot like hordes. They take less morale test that way, bring a lot of wieght in combat and can shoot a lot from cover. It is also VERY difficult to remove a Kroot horde from cover; one of the reasons Kroot hordes are sometimes championed above mechanized Fire Warriors. Their extra deployment techniques make them tricky, as they can start right next to your opponent or off on the side in a wood. The can sit 50% in terrain and 50% in a line across the field to grant cover to your other units. They die to anything that denies cover by the bucket. But they are nonetheless dangerous. Use them.

20x Kroot Mercenaries; 4x Kroot Hounds -164
How to get the Hounds? Model some of your Kroot in leaned over positions, don't give them guns (maybe cut the knife ends off and put that in their hands) and make them converted "Feral Kroot". Paint blood on their hands and maws. These conversions are simple and effective.

Pathfinders are key, and start becoming really useful at 1000 points or higher. Here we will field 8; the other 4 coming from the conversion method outlined in the post before.

4x Pathfinder Shas'la; Devilfish w/ SMS, TA, MT, DP -168
4x Pathfinder Shas'la; Devilfish w/ SMS, TA, MT, DP -168
You can combine these units if you want, giving the second 'fish instead to Fire Warriors. This method will save you one KP, but will make the squad a big target. This way you can light up an extra target, and will make killing all of your lights annoying.

Remember that measly Stealth Team with low amounts of firepower? With a full squad they can shred through soft targets, hurt heavier infantry, and even break through rear armor through use of extra deployment options or just great maneuvering.

1x Stealth Shas'ui Team Leader w/ Bonding Knife; 5x Shas'la
This is where you will first see the use of morale upgrades. A full Stealth Team benefits from a Bonding Knife, as if they fall back from their forward roles they can regroup and move back up, once again aggravating the opponent.

Now we go back to the Crisis Commander; again we lack Heavy Support (AKA no Railguns), so any Crisis Suits need to be of the anti-tank variety. So we use the same Commander as before.

1x Crisis Shas'el w/ TL-MP, FB, HWMT -85
Nothing needs to be said. Its all in the last post.

In 1000 points, one Suit with anti-vehicle guns isn't enough. Luckily for us we can afford a second.

1x Crisis Shas'ui Team Leader w/ TL-MP, FB, HWMT -65
A less accurate, less tough, but equally shooty suit. Use is the same as the Commander, only slightly more expendable.

So the final list looks like:

1x Crisis Shas'el w/ TL-MP, FB, HWMT -85
1x Crisis Shas'ui w/ TL-MP, FB, HWMT -65
1x Stealth Shas'ui TL w/ BK; 5x Stealth Shas'ui -190
8x Fire Warrior Shas'la (Rifles) -80
8x Fire Warrior Shas'la (Rifles) -80
20 Kroot Mercenaries; 4x Kroot Hounds -164
4x Pathfinder Shas'la; Devilfish w/ SMS, TA, MT, DP -168
4x Pathfinder Shas'la; Devilfish w/ SMS, TA, MT, DP -168
TOTAL= 1000 pts

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Single Battleforce Army (500 points)

The Battleforce contains (as stated previously) 1 Crisis Suit, 3 Stealth Suits, 1 Devilfish (2 Drones on 'fish), 12 Fire Warriors (comes with two drones), and 12 Kroot.

The first thing you need in a Tau army is to decide how you are going to run your Fire Warriors. In lower points they can afford to be on foot, but since this is likely your first army, it will be nice for you to try both mechanized and footslogging troops.
Model 8 of your Firewarriors with Pulse Rifles or Carbines (Rifles are widely seen as superior) and this will be your mandatory Fire Warrior Squad.

8x Shas'la (Rifles) -80 pts
This squad will move forward and attack an objective or some infantry in a Devilfish. In this point level, the Devilfish will be difficult to kill, and "Tankshocking" makes them great for attacking objectives.
Note: This squad will not buy the Devilfish for themselves, but they will ride in it. More on this below.

Next is for the second Troop choice. Since you cannot form a Firewarrior squad out of the remaining form (there's a point, trust me), you must look to your Kroot. These guys will give you experience with footslogging units.

11x Kroot Mercenaries -77 pts
Note: Kroot are odd. They will die if shot at almost always, but can make decent use of cover to make themselves more durable. They can also bring a hefty amount of attacks onto the enemy via close combat. For this list, your Kroot fulfill the role of a "pillbox" unit; they will sit in cover on an objective and shoot anything in their range. If shot at, they will "go to ground" (check the core rulebook) making them difficult to remove from an objective.

Pathfinders are our next choice. While these are normally not to be used below 500 points, it is important to learn the workings of Markerlights. "But we don't get Pathfinders!" some will proclaim. While it's conversion time.
Take the 4 extra Firewarriors, model them with Carbines and no shoulderpads (for a scouty feel). These will act as your Pathfinders. The Devilfish that you're forced to take with them will be given to the Firewarriors on the first turn.

4x Pathfinder Shas'la; Devilfish w/ Smart Missile System, Targetting Array, Multitracker, Disruption Pod -168
The Pathfinder squad is a good help to your everything but your Kroot, and they have some interesting effects (look 'em up in the codex).
The Devilfish has been upgraded a LOT. This is called a Warfish, holding considerable firepower, and being rather tough to crack. It can transport your Firewarriors into fire and back.

Next is the Elite choices; Stealth Suits come to mind, as the Commander will teach you about Crisis Suits.

3x Stealth Shas'ui -90
Stealth Suits are decent for delivering small arms firepower to unexpected places. Learn how to use their extra deployment options and you will do fine.

The final part is the Crisis Commander. First off, Shas'o are normally not worth the points. The extra point in BS is nice, but that can be accomplished by buying a Targetting Array for a Shas'el; for less points.
Second off, I normally leave my Crisis Suits until last when building. It's not that they aren't important, they are; they just fill in gaps. For example, this list has multiple anti-infantry weapons, overpowering most warriors. But no way of dealing with vehicles except ramming means problems; hence the need for a Commander wo can fight tanks:

Shas'el w/ Twin-Linked Missile Pods, Fusion Blaster, Hardwired Multi-Tracker
This Shas'el is for hitting vehicles specifically; deepstriking with him is suprisingly useful, as Missile Pods hitting rear armor are painful. Make sure you familiarize yourself with melta weapons, but never attempt to deepstrike into melta range against any vehicles carrying troops (unless necessary), as even if you do pop the transport they will assault and kill you Commander next turn.

So the list is as follows:
Shas'el w/ TL-MP, FB, HWMT -85
3x Stealth Shas'ui -90
8x Shas'la (Rifles) -80
11x Kroot Mercenaries -77
4x Pathfinders; Devilfish w/ SMS, TA, MT, DP -168
TOTAL= 500 points

Next post I will outline how to make a 1000 point army using two Battleforces.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Starting Tau Pt1

This is for any newer players that stumble upon the blog, fresh from training as Shas'saals.
First off, get a codex. Don't pirate it, then you are a douchebag. Buy the 'dex, and if you don't have a friend who already plays, buy a core rulebook. For actual collecting, you should start off with the Tau Battleforce.
This will give you a full squad of Fire Warriors (12), meaning you can either treat them as a single unit or split them into two minimum-sized squads, depending on your plans. This is great, as at least two troop choices are needed in standard games, and for Tau, one of them must be a group of Fire Warriors. You also get a Devilfish, which is an excellent, though expensive pointswise.
You also get 12 Kroot, just a little more than a full squad. These guys are either hated or loved by Tau players, depending on playstyle. I will post some theory on them at a later date. Suffice to say that they are point for point a better offensive unit the Fire Warriors, but lack the ability to bring transports, and lack any armor, making them easy to kill if not hidden in cover.
You get three Stealth Suits, who by themselves, are near pointless. Many players avoid Stealth Suits, as they suffer from being worse in terms of firepower to points conversion than Crisis Suits. They do however, gain in terms of maneuverability; they have additional deployment options that Crisis Suits don't have.
Speaking of the Suits, you get one of those. This Suit will act as your Commander early in your career, as you MUST have at least one Shas'el or Shas'o to lead your army.

A second Battleforce will give you more than enough models to make a decent army. Then you need to branch out into Heavy Support. Hammerheads or Broadsides, or both. Skyrays are unorthodox but entirely usable. Sniper Drone Teams are great units, but they compete with things that are much better uses of the slot.

Next pos, I'll review how to build a viable army using one Battleforce, then using two.

Slow & Purposeful

My hobby time is coming slowly lately, with the things I own in the limbo state between built and painted. I'll be getting more in two weeks or so, but I've decided that this blog needs to be updated far more often.
So since I can't get modelling stuff up, I'll be moving into theory. Wish me luck.
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