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Friday, May 28, 2010

Spearhead Formations are out!

The new expansion, Spearhead, is out, and in its infant stages:

I immediately see three of the spearheads as useful to the Tau. In order of least usefulness to greatest, I'll give the explanation of why they are useful (in my eyes) and an example 500 point Spearhead:
-Skyfall Spearhead: Though there are problems with Deep Strike, the Skyfall allow the Tau to get into a good position mid-game, and they can slow infantry and wreck tanks. Railheads, would be ideal, as the blast would gain pinning and the Railgun would be near unstoppable. The Ion Cannon becomes more attractive due to the side armor rules. Smart Missile Systems would really come into their own here as well; Move 12" (Multitracker standard) fire the Rails at vehicles and the SMS at infantry entrenched in cover (no target lock needed). Possibly blow up three tanks and pin three squads on the deepstriking turn with the triple Hammerhead Spearhead.
Example Spearhead:
Skyfall Rule -45
Hammerhead w/ Railgun, SMS, Multitracker, D. Pod -175
Hammerhead w/ Ion Cannon, SMS, Multitracker, D. Pod -140
Hammerhead w/ Ion Cannon, SMS, Multitracker, D.Pod -140
This Spearhead relies on the multiple Pinning shots of cover-ignoring SMS and the Side armor rule to maintain a fast-moving, long-ranged war machine, capable of blasting away anything that relies on its front armor value.
- Seek and Destroy Spearhead: Would allow for a massed Piranha Squadron/ Gun Drone rush on a flank, with a melta threat of 30" once per game. That is an amazing threat, especially en masse.
Example Spearhead:
Seek and Destroy Rule -50
Piranha w/ Fusion Blaster, Targeting Array, Flechette Dischargers; Piranha w/ Fusion Blaster, Targeting Array -150
Piranha w/ Fusion Blaster, Targeting Array, Flechette Dischargers; Piranha w/ Fusion Blaster, Targeting Array -150
Piranha w/ Fusion Blaster, Targeting Array, Flechette Dischargers; Piranha w/ Fusion Blaster, Targeting Array -150
With the six Skimmers and twelve Drones provided here, you can harrass the enemy to hell and back. The strategy I'm thinking of is simple; the Piranhas rush forward as a long line, flat out and empty their Fusion Blasters into six seperate tanks. Mass panic from the enemy. Mass kills for you. Noticing the threat, the enemy will likely dedicate massive amounts of firepower to killing these squadrons; when the suprisingly durable vehicles remain, they will move at cruising speed and do so again, and again, all while dropping Drones to annoy and blocking the now dismounted and disarrayed enemy's movement. During this time, the rest of your army tears them to shreds.
Against hordes or footsloggers, the addition of Flechettes and the durability of the Piranhas gives you the luxury of simply corralling the enemy into a nice circle of Piranhas as you shoot them to hell. It is literally shooting fish in a barrel, in 40k form.
-Ambush Spearhead: THE best option for Tau. Three Hammerheads, all infiltrating to create an independent firebase of Ion Cannons or Railguns, deploying last (or at least after most) to gain side/rear armor shots. Not to mention that our vehicles get Stealth. This is huge. When equipped with Disruption Pods, our tanks get a 3+ cover save. This is amazing. Our vehicles have STORM SHIELDS. The tank goes from annoying to hard as nails. Diamond nails.
Example Spearhead:
Ambush rule -75
Hammerhead w/ Railgun, 2x Burst Cannons, Multitracker, Disruption Pod -165
Hammerhead w/ Railgun, 2x Burst Cannons Multitrackers, Disruption Pod -165
Hammerhead w/ Ion Cannon, 2x Burst Cannons, Multitracker, Disruption Pod -130
A cheaper version of the skyfall, as the SMS lacks the pinning sting, this unit can infiltrate in, with zero risk (unlike skyfall; thought of 500 points gone in a mishap = *shudder*), get side/rear armor, and proceed to pound the opponent.
There are three things that (in my opinion) make this Spearhead better for Tau in terms of the effect on the battlefield (even assuming that the deepstrike is successful). First is the 3+ cover. That makes this Spearhead impossibly durable to enemy shooting. The second is that the threat is there from turn one, as opposed to waiting for reserves. The third is that it has a psychological effect. If the enemy sees the Skyfall, they will continue on as is, expose rear-armour, than react after the turn they can come in; they can't stop the side armour shots, but you can't benefit from rear armour until the turn after. By then they react. With the Infiltration, the enemy has to deal with the threat of a flanked, near-invincible firebase, and that will have an effect on him. Does he dedicate units to it? Does he attempt to ignore it to hit your main army? Is he stuck in a side/rear armor crossfire between your real firebase and your Spearhead? You give the enemy the opportunity to make mistakes, to split forces, and you can capitalize on it.

What do you guys see as the potential of Spearhead formations? Any experience with them yet?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Combat Patrol Video

As promised, a quick explanation of the Stealth Recon list in the last post, explaining the use of Piranhas in combination with Stealth Suits.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Running a Combat Patrol

So due to fan questioning and the general 40k blogosphere, I'm jumping on the Combat Patrol bandwagon.

What is CP?
Combat Patrol is an odd little game that is simple to play and an easy way to get started. It is small enough to get a general grasp on the rules of the games, and see the synergy between units on a smaller level; synergies that larger armies can be built on.
Combat Patrol can, however, be brutal. The small points level rewards the leanest of players, who can fit every fist and bullet into their list they can. Those small level synergies can be deadly combinations, with no way to force through them; take, for example, Fritz's Harlequin list:
The list has a very low model count that you won't expect from Foot Eldar (Footdar), but has a few nasty surprises; it is practically unshootable due to durability (2+ saves in CP via cover!) and the Shadowseer (unshootable over 24", annoying night-fighting-like tests). It snipes something early and then books it away and hides, and can handle itself in assault (Harlequins are very good).
In this competitive form of CP, every move counts; there is no room to blunder, as a single mistake, a single model's death, can change the game. It is a very exciting game, and it is over shortly enough for a rematch or three.

What does a CP list need?
First off, CP is about Victory Point denial. There are two ways to do this; unit-pinching and, on the opposite spectrum, unit-spam. Unit-pinching puts massive amounts of points into units that are made very hard to kill; see Fritz's list. Unit spam means putting very small amounts of points into units so that when they give up points, the amount is very small. An example of this would be a list with 5 8-man Fire Warrior squads.
A CP list, first and foremost, needs a single Troop choice. For us Tau players, this choice is a bit limited; we are stuck, as always, with a choice between Kroot and Fire Warriors. My opinion on this is simple; the Fire Warriors are more durable, and give us more deployment options (i.e. not cover-tied) than the Kroot, meaning that they can take up better firing positions; furthermore, their 30"range means that on the 4'x4' tables that CP is played on, they;ll always have a target. They prefer backfield sniping in CP, while Kroot are used up-close; meaning that unless your opponent has brought as much ranged firepower as, well, the Tau, he will be far more likely to pick up Kroot points than Fire Warrior points. So I give my personal edge to the Fire Warriors. (I should also note that it is undecided whether a unit of Fire Warriors are 1+ in CP. I'd say no, as the Commander cannot be taken. Otherwise, I assume normal FOC limits for CP, as it makes the game easier to get through. Yet another reason for Fire Warriors ;D).
My second maxim for Combat Patrol is to have some anti-tank, while my third is to have vehicles. The reasons? First off, while most vehicles aren't allowed in CP, some are. You need a solid way to deal with them when your opponent starts spamming chimeras or something else stupid. Second off, while Pulse Fire can down AV10 when you hose it at them, a meltagun can't hurt for emergencies. The inverse applies to my statement; most players lack effective vehicle killing weapons, rationalizing that they are unnecessary in a game with only light armor. For this role, and one that will be explained below, the Piranha (with Fusion Blaster and Targeting Array) makes it into my list.
Now it is clear we need a firepower element. Right now my list has very few actual guns, and thats bad for any army, but specifically Tau. Many will take the knee-jerk response and jump right to Crisis Suits, and for good reason; Crisis Suits are the workhorse of Tau. A Fireknife can put out more high strength shots than most, can do it from a long range, and likely pick up cover.
There are downsides to the Crisis Suit, however. One wound and it gives up half its Victory Points, and even at its extreme range it is in danger; Instant Death! can remove it outright. So it is our best shooter but, is a glass cannon. Note that this is a problem in CP, as they can get away with being rather fragile in objective games, but here, it matters.
Instead I prefer the Crisis Suit's overshadowed brethren; the Stealth Suits. The Stealth Suits work up-close, which is problematic, but with the use of Piranhas as a mobile terrain piece, they can draw assaulters away yet stay safe against enemy returns. They are nearly immune to long range shooting due to the Stealth Field. Also, Infiltration allows them to hit turn 1. So Stealth Suits are my go to CP unit, despite my general dislike of them in the normal game.

My final CP list ends up looking like this:
8x Shas'la (Rifles) -80
3x Stealth Shas'ui -90
3x Stealth Shas'ui -90
Piranha w/ Fusion Blaster, Targeting Array -70
Piranha w/ Fusion Blaster, Targeting Array -70

The overall synergy of this list is a bit hard to explain without a representation of the models of some sort, so I have a video for you all! Next post is the general strategy of the army, with, of course, the visual examples.

Monday, May 17, 2010

New Layout

So after tossing around some layouts I found around, I settled for this.
Personally, the dark feel of it lends more towards 40k than the Purple that I used to have to represent my Cadre. This blog layout can be found at Blogger Templates, a link to which is at the bottom of my blog. For anyone starting up a blog or looking for a change, I'd HIGHLY recommend taking a look.
What do you think? If everyone prefers the simple purple I'd be happy to change back.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Holding Ground! Troops, Part 1 (Kroot, the Creeping Menace)

Kroot are an odd unit for Tau. Statwise, they seem to be geared for assault, but point for point they are better at shooting than Tau. Unlike the rest of our technologically advanced army, they are unarmored, and use simple weapons. In fluff, they form the role of scouts and shock troops, doing everything from tearing apart advanced Marines, and Eldar to holding off swarms of Hormaguants.
But how to use them in game?

The problem with Kroot is that they are absolutely bad statwise, not making up their points in either shooting or combat against anything else in the game. Kroot can hold their own against guard and smaller squads of Nids, but they fail to hurt anything that is really dedicated to combat, and they are a flamer or blast away from extinction.
Kroot also do not work well in a combatant role in small numbers. A squad of 10 will get knocked out of the game too fast for you to even realize you wasted 70 points. A full horde of 20 Kroot can give some punch, but the combat resolution rules still don't favor our unarmored, uninspired brethren to take out combat specialists. The size increase does help against shooting, however, increasing the amount your opponent has to down before you have to take a moral test; an annoyance for the opponent if you hide them in cover.

Kroot have two buddies that can be brought along with them for the purpose of boosting their abilities in one way or another. The first buddy is the Krootox, sporting the Rapidfire equivalent of a Missile Pod. I would suggest never taking Krootox in your whole life ever as it takes away your Kroot's ability to Infiltrate, drastically reducing their effectiveness (see below). The Krootox is made to increase the effectiveness of "sit and shoot" Kroot. I have never such a monstrosity work, and do not plan to.

The second buddy for Kroot is Kroot Hounds (puppies!). Kroot Puppies cost a point less than the common Kroot, put out equal attacks, with equal Strength, Toughness, Weapon Skill, etc. but with I5! The downside? Kroot Puppies have no guns, as puppies with guns would be to awesome even for 40k to contain. The Puppies also do not benefit from fieldcraft, as they break cover to chase grenades.
Kroot Puppies are very effective for Kroot, as they bring in two boosts via their I5:
1. Sick of your Kroot getting killed before attacking? Take wounds on the Kroot Puppies, who have probably already attacked, to keep your units that have yet to swing alive. This is useful if you want your Kroot to actually have a chance to kill the enemy on the charge.
2. Are your Kroot forming a wall of expendability against a charging foe they cannot hope to defeat? Save the Puppies! If, at the end of combat, you have more Puppies than Kroot, you flee (or sweep) at I5 as opposed to I3. This can keep your Kroot from being run down, allowing them to get away without dying miserably.

Shapers are another upgrade Kroot can grab at. Costing as much as 4 Kroot, a Shaper benefits from getting a free T-Shirt saying "I Love Angkor Prok", which gives him a 6+ save, and has brought a box of spares that he is happy to sell to any Kroot for 1 point. He is slightly less challenged than normal Kroot, bearing a leadership of 8. He has figured out the contraptions of Tau weaponry, allowing him to use a Pulse weapon for free, though that takes away from his total amount of attacks in CC, making it a poor option. Sadly, he does not hold his points weight in neither shooting or CC compared to 4 of his kind and thus is used by Tau players very rarely.

How does one use Kroot to get good effect out of their weak, armor-less hides? The true advantages to Kroot are four-fold, and come from outside their statline.
1. Kroot are Troops. This means Kroot can score objectives, a modern marvel as it was once thought they would simply eat them. A tactic known as pillboxing has evolved from this, and it is the simplest form of objective scoring you will ever see. Place an objective in cover, preferably woods, and sit a massive blob of Kroot on it, who continually go to ground when fired upon. It will annoy anyone who has not brought effective cover-ignoring weapons to know end, as they bring hundreds of fifties of pounds of ordnance down on a difficult to extricate horde. This leaves your opponent's with an irksome choice; dedicate firepower to the 100 or so points of Kroot hiding away, or hit your actual firepower.
2. Kroot hordes take up space. This can be used to make a very annoying wall, circle, etc. that can screw with your opponent's ability to maneuver. In DoW games, you can place your Kroot far forward if you get first deployment, limiting the area your opponent can deploy into. You can form large blocks around vehicles to dissuade deepstriking melta from landing too close. You can circle up around your Broadsides to protect them from quick assaults. They can provide a wall of cover to your Crisis Suits, allowing them to jump behind it after firing freely.
3. Kroot make great outflankers. A 20 or so man squad (with Puppies!) can threaten the flanks very well, tarring up units in assault or killing weakened enemies. If no targets are available, they can come in on a cornered objective and score. Your success with this strategy will vary, but back in the day when I used outflanking Kroot as part of Ninja Tau and Ethereal Tau (I know; ew) they ranked up: 2 Rhinos (1 full of TacMarines that couldn't disembark), a Daemon Prince with 3 wounds, 2 Basilisks, and some Scouts. It can be rather effective.
4. Kroot can INFILTRATE. This is a big deal. You can set up to push back enemy Infiltrators, or stop a first turn rush, or any such nonsense. You can get yourself into shooting range or threaten infantry targets. It is a very reactive ability that can help to remove alpha-strike threats from a less tactical opponent. That being said, I prefer to use Stealth Suits for this role, as their guns have more of a punch, but Kroot are cheap and effective at this.

Tau players, how do you use Kroot? Do you see them as useful or useless?

One last thing; Kroot can win you the game automatically against an all-reserved all-bike/infantry army :D

Monday, May 3, 2010

Leading the Charge! (Crisis Commanders and their Bodyguards)

Crisis Command Teams are a highly debated subject. The roles of the two Shas'vre bodyguards could easily be filled by Shas'ui purchased in the Elite slot, sporting the same number of wounds, same ballistic skill, and same mobility as the more costly Shas'ui. So why do many Tau generals insist on the use of bodyguards?
Bodyguards bring to the table three advantages that shas'ui do not. Sadly, the first two of these advantages are so miniscule that they are not deciding factors in the slightest:
1. They take up an HQ slot. This means that if you enjoy taking masses of Crisis or Stealth Suits, you may need a spot to fit more Crisis firepower. This only comes into play with larger point games, and rarely with any army builds but Crisis-spam.
2. They are better at combat. Bodyguards not only have an easier time hitting in combat, but they don't allow the Commander to be singled out (or vice-versa) by things that could easily kill it.
3. They have access to Wargear and Special Issue Weapons. This is the big one. This allows a plethora of options not otherwise seen. Want a team made to crush infantry? Plasma, CIB, AFB, Missiles, all in one squad. Do you want to have three weapon systems on each suit? Go ahead, you can hardwire multitrackers. Want Fireknives with backup flamers? Do it up.
The big thing here though; with the ability to hardwire multitrackers, you can finally give your whole team access to Targetting Arrays, which is key in lists that run few to zero markerlights.

A word to the wise, however. Bodyguards are expensive. You should only use a bodyguard team if you have reason to. Taking bodyguards only is worth the cost when:
a) you are out of Elite slots
b) you have a Special Issue team planned
c) you lack Markerlights
If you do not meet these criteria, stick to the shas'ui.
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