Monday, July 14, 2014

7th Edition Tau

I'll be a monkey's uncle!  Here we are in 7E and every one's got an opinion.  I'm no different.

When you play Tau, you are going to be in a whole new world of rules soup.  Fundamentally there were some really really hard hits for Tau.  I know a few people who will shed no tears over that but I will submit to you that there's a lot that makes one reconsider lists.

Just briefly because I don't want this to turn entirely into just another rundown of 7E changes.  Lord knows there's enough of that.  Some worthy mentions should be made though.

In the Heavy Support slot, the Sniper Drone Squads no longer can pin the enemy.  With as many shots as they could unload, that is a bummer.  Daemonology has changed the world and almost necessitates a unit that can knock the summoners out early and often.  So I am wondering if, despite the loss of Pinning, Snipers might have become much more valued than before?  Its a give and take but if you play people who don't use Daemonology it feels like all give and no take.

A bigger bummer is Kroot who had the Sniper Rounds option cut in half in value by the same change, not that I used them anyways.  I know some of you did though.  Worse, the Kroot can now not charge on THEIR first turn when infiltrating, not even when going second!  This made the unit which is already not able to charge from outflank a real question mark again.  I remember thinking that they were utterly worthless when 6E came out after having loved them for so long.  The Tau Empire Codex brought them back to respectability.  7th edition has now clouded whether it is worth it once more.  Forcing Kroot to take TWO rounds of fire from the enemy before they can act is asking for a hell of a lot, even from an optimist like me.  Perhaps they make good reactor shielding still.

XV104 Battlesuits took a big hit on the Smash attack rule which now simply says you treat your attack kinda' like meltabombs, giving up all attacks for just one.  On the plus side, ALL attacks made by a model that has Smash are AP 2 so even normal ones are pretty darn good now and so Smash isn't as necessary.  But it's still a hit when you're talking vehicles.  The Onager Gauntlet gives you more than the XV104 Smash attack does.  Just saying.  If you thought they were a hairs breadth from taking LD checks in melee before, they are really in for it now.  Again, some people will be glad to see it, but it affected Tyranids and other armies also, which could have done without more nerfs.

The reality is that new opportunities opened up as well.  Supreme levels of mobility are rewarded in 7th Edition, especially in Maelstrom of War missions.  This will make battlefields and fights far more interesting than ever and in fact have for me.  Not only that but the vehicles that seemed so spendy before have now grown QUITE doughty.  Unlike some enemy vehicles, there aren't a lot of Tau who care if their Devilfish is forced to Snap Fire next round in order to dodge bullets.  That weapon is as likely to get blown of before it matters than to fire or do much that is useful unless there are a mass of them...  and whose making Devilfish Burst Cannons a "strategy"?  No one.

Night Fight was a non issue for Tau before.  Night Fighting is even tamer and easier to handle now for the few Tau units who didn't have Black Sun Filters, devaluing that war gear but not making it useless.

So as the changes have morphed the value of some units, I look to my shelves again for salvation and who will deliver me?

Who indeed.

Flamers took on a new aspect as they can now bake a unit inside an open topped vehicle.  It happens that Tau can take a lot of flamers.  Like 18.  Which is a lot.  This doesn't suck if you enjoy a more melee oriented Tau force.  Softening up the target is just what you'll need to do before charging in with Tau.

Screwing with enemy deployment got better.  The enemy Scouts that once could threaten your infiltrators now cannot in round 1.  So it gives you a chance to act without getting tied up and you can affect enemy deployment better for it.

Overall I'm pretty jazzed about the 7th Edition and how much it favors mobility.  Vehicles are tougher which makes Fire Warriors happy and the rules for being blown out of them are also VERY forgiving.  The Diamond formation of Devilfishes with a Fire Warrior vortex in the middle is totally viable and awesome now.  Better than Dark Eldar Raiders and thanks to Fire Warrior range, no less deadly.

Other thoughts?

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  1. I’ve been experimenting with the following list (with some cosmetic variations game to game. So far it hasn’t let me down).

    Combined Arms Detachment 1
    Commander, Multispectrum sensor suite and Command & control node

    20 Sniper Kroot
    10 Kroot

    Fusion Piranha
    Fusion Piranha
    Fusion Piranha

    Longstike in Hammerhead
    Missile Broadside with drone controller, 2 Missile Drones
    Missile Broadside with drone controller, 2 Missile Drones

    Combined Arms Detachment 2


    10 Kroot
    10 Kroot

    3 Stealth Suites, 1 fusion, 1 marker’vre with drone controller, 2 marker drones
    3 Stealth Suites, 1 fusion, 1 marker’vre with drone controller, 2 marker drones

    4-6 Pathfinders + recondrone if points allow.

    Obviously this is kind of a fluffy list, and not designed to be hyper-competitive, but it does seem to be working for me. The aim is not so much to produce overwhelming fire-power, or even really to be able to combat every conceivable threat. Instead Plan A with this list is to 'win' deployment. After which the battle gets to be a much easier prospect.

    Taking that number of infiltrators gets me the best of both worlds when deploying first and the sheer quantity of infiltrating models is enough to put most opponents off balance, which is half of the battle really. I've found that kroot, sensitively placed, actually make pretty good shooting troops (obviously not as good as fire warriors, but for me infiltrate outweighs str 5 ap5). The blob of twenty firing sniper ammo and benefitting from the commanders war-gear and two markers can reliably score 3-4 rending wounds and 6 or so normal wounds, which is reasonably nasty against most things in 3+/2+ armour, and rapid firing with a bit of marker support the number of hits is staggering. I've only fought two combats with my kroot however, in one I charged the remains of a devastator squad and ate it up, but the second was me being charged by storm-boys, and I got suitably pounded. I think Tau players just have to stop thinking of kroot as assault troops, because they just aren't.

    The multipurpose stealth suits are something I wanted to give a go, and for the most part my opponents have ignored them, 2+ cover being too much hassle to bother with. This means I have some amount of marker light support even down in the lower end of the fifth, sixth and seventh turns. Something pathfinders are less reliable for (in my experience). They are not cheap though.

    I still love my Piranhas for harassment and blocking value and the amount of times they've surprised enemy tanks by quickly finding a route to rear armour is enough to make me include them automatically (I used to run four, but three isn't too bad).

    In summary, I think you've largely hit the nail on the head when you suggest that Tau can excel with a mobile army. Too many opponents expect a gun line still, and aren't sure how to cope with tau that get up close en masse. Maybe that will change over time, but for now it seems to be working.

    1. Yeah this will REALLY catch an enemy off guard. You have absolutely maximized the benefits of being able to avoid letting your enemy dictate the terms of engagement here. Asdrubael Vect will be so mad at you for this. Lol. I tried responding earlier but the internet ate my response. I think you should move two of the Marker Drones to the Command suit.

      I like the list a lot. Now I do feel that there are a couple of armies that this build must really be cautious of. Drop armies and bioke armies will (largely) negate some of the benefits you're getting here. So you might want ot practice against those types first to get your bearings. I also wonder if 5 Fusion Gun shots is enough to really get the results you want against Imperial Knights. Put some thought into those. But if its a maelstrom Mission, this list could clean house.

    2. The internet is eating my replies as well!

      Long and short of it... With shadowsun it's 7 fusion shots, which still isn't reliable for knights, but can take them down in two turns or so if well managed (probably a concerted effort in turns 3 and 4, outmaneuver them before that). Locally we've no solid drop pod lists happily, and only one bike army which I've yet to lose to with other list. Not faced it with this one, and it would be tricky, but I reckon it'd be fifty fifty..
      The markers tend to benefit the commanders squad most, so are not as much use within it, but I can see the argument for sure!
      Incidentally, the latest match with this list I happened to know I would be facing CSM. As a measure I actually dropped two fusion guns from the stealth squads and gave them interceptor instead. This allowed me to use the kroot blob as bait for the inevitable helldrake, and with the stealth squads deployed directly up-board from the blob they were able to fire 24 str 5 shots into the HD's rear armour, taking it down before it could cause too much damage. Massive gamble I know, but it worked, and the game was relatively simple after that point.
      I am very much a gambling man when it comes to 40k, and I'd rather lose spectacularly with an inspired plan than win through attrition.. Working on a daemon list to that exact end.. just my 0.02!

    3. Im a fan of Stealth Suits and am...clearly here...on record as being a big fan. So Good times!


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