Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tau Stealth Suits in 6E

As the Chaos Daemons codex came out and I noticed they included actual jetpack troops, it got me to thinking about Tau.

Most know I was a big proponent of building lists using stealthsuits.  I have not made use of Crisis Battle Suits in general because I don't need them to win, though I of course see their value in Tau lists.  When I have used the Stealthsuits they prove time and again what a force they can be.

First I'll start by pointing out that the cost to have a StealthHammer in your army is commensurate with what you'd get from a Grey Knight Squad or even Purgation Squads in full regalia.  300 points, while by no stretch of anyones imagination cheap, isn't really unusually high either.  People pay for 235 point Assault Marine units without a thought, for example, and a one model HQ can cost you 265 points...  and be worth it.

A Grey Knight Squad fires 14 STR 5 Bolter shots.  The Tau StealthHammer puts out 24 of them.
A Grey Knights squad fires 4 STR 7 aP 4 pinning shots on the move.  StealthHammers fire 2 Fusion Blasters on the move and END up further away than the Grey Knights can.  The Grey Knights don't pin their enemy, but the StealthHammer does.  The Stealthhammer regularly enjoys 2+ cover and Grey Knights do not.  So would you pay 300 points for that?  What if I told you that you could GUARANTEE the unit won't be swept in melee?  Would you then?

Already, you can see that the 300 points may be well spent.

Looking further, we see that both had 3+ armor, 4 for the drones.  The much larger pool of wounds on 2+ cover makes for favorable comparisons when at range.

In melee, the Grey Knights win.  But what does the win mean?  In the case of the Stealth units, it means that the StealthHammer can escape combat with a reasonable chance of getting away so they can shoot again!  This is huge deal and I'll talk about it more in a minute.  The Grey Knights by their own rules find it hard to get away or shoot again, especially ifthey dont win by much.

This Tau unit can infiltrate to the weaker flank and start buzzsawing its way through it. It does damage, and jumps away, making it increasinlgy unlikely that sending things to support that flank will be very fruitful for an enemy.  Pot shots sure, but ssutained threat of melee?  Maybe not so much unless it is a Vanguard unit.

These are roughly equal units in price but the grey Knights don't have the deployment options, they cant outshoot the Hammers and they aren't any more fun to look at on the field.  Only in melee do the Knights regain some glory.  But it's a shooting mans game now.


The Shas'O and Shas'El can each take some wargear to help eleviate the disadvantage the unit WOULD have been suffering in prolonged melee.  The Shas'O in all likelihood should carry the Vectored Retro Thrusters and irridium armor to ablate damage.  This gives the entire unit the ability to Hit and Run.  Now if the Tau unit blasts its target AND then charges, WITH Vectored Retro Thrusters, there is a high probability of success in that combat and then they can bounce and prepare for Overwatch if the unit they charged is even alive enough to come for them.

The Shas'El should carry the Failsafe Detonator.  This ensures that the unit should be able to effectively Hit and Run (at the cost of the Commander), never being Swept, and always shooting as they should be.  Here again such a device allows them to be more aggressive in melee after shooting.

The two commanders join the respective StealthHammers in Outflank, Deep Strike OR infiltrating (probably better to infiltrate most times), not only adding yet more shots to the mix, but now giving both units ways to get around their only real weakness.

Tau take casualties but try to avoid total unit loss as a way to get the enemy into unfavorable killing grounds.  These units are ideal for baiting such ill advised charges!  This also can be a great asset.

Some food for thought here:  Two enemy units can't occupy the same space at the same time.  See physics for details.  They wont clump up if your Tau force uses Templates and blasts.  So in the end, on one flank or the other, there will be room to DS at 18 inches or infiltrate there and fire all guns on the exposed group.  Killing the closest target of an already spread out unit means they will kill 6 of 10 MEQ immediately, leaving four in the unit facing them.  The survivors know that they can do some damage, but clearly not enough, as reaching the Tau suits is a long shot after they've Jetpack bounced plus the added casualty distance has made it worse.  Let's say the brave enemy does make the charge though.  Stealth Suits aren't terrible in melee (STR 4, hitting on 4's, commander wounding on 3's), BUT lets give the benefit of the doubt and say the Tau flubbed and lost by a couple.  Time to run.  The Vectored Retros lift the unit out of harms way, leaving the enemy remnants high and dry.  If both StealthHammers are caught, the second StealthHammer Commander drops the large blast and saves the unit automatically.  The weakened enemy is now exposed.

What do you think the 6E tau Empire codex will do to with these guys?  That's a very good question and I hear a lot of rumors now, some good, some not so good.  I sure hope the brains running the show on the codex recognize the potential of the old codex enough not to wash it away wholesale.  Tau are due a new codex, but the Tau feel is petty particular, and stealth suits really typify Tau tactics and collaborative war.

My conclusion here though is that Stealthsuits are a great asset to any Tau force.

1 comment:

  1. So Tau are coming and with them I am sure significant changes to the way this unit works. JUST around the corner too! I am somewhat excited and somewhat woried, as usual with new codex's, but we haven't had a really bad one since they came out with Blood Angels. GK were bordrline but people have figured them out and are on a more even footing now that they understand its limits.

    Tau will be a whole other beast. Not seen as often at tournies before so we will find out if the Bandwagon has room for people who want to play Tau now. I've been on the wagon forever so I am exempt. =)

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