So who says the oldest codex is unwinnable? I’ve thrown myself into the Tau for the last six months and have come away surprised…
First up, the codex is ancient. The Necrons got the fancy treatment, and only the most hard core of the Templars and Dark Angels haven’t moved onto to other counts-as MEQ codices. The Tau players are unfortunately stuck with what we have. Here is what I’ve learned.
1) Don’t expect miracles. You need to play precisely (and ruthlessly) AND have a tad of luck to pull off wins with the blue-skins. Sometimes you do indeed draw a top tier modern codex build, have a bad first turn and know its pretty much over from there. That said…
2) There are NO CHEESY Tau Lists. If it works, do it, and ignore any looks from your opponents. Throne, they should be happy you are even hauling the Tau out of the closet in the first place. This leads me directly to…
3) Rail guns. Grab all the rail guns you can stick your blue nearsighted three fingered hands on. You will need them. Even in 2012, 72″ S:10 AP:1 can deal with anything you can hit. I suggest multiple combos of max Broadsides squads and Hammerheads as you see fit.
4) Markerlights – Now that the old Faithpoint system has gone the way of the Dodo, the markerlights are the best form of legal cheating around. Your bread and butter will be +1BS (see rule#3 above) and dropping cover saves (also see rule#3). In this new Necron era, don’t forget that a single markerlight hit can remove nightfighting rules from a shooting unit. I’ve blasted many a Necron Warrior squad to tin foil with Hammerhead submunition rounds from across the table who thought they were perfectly safe under the protection of a Solar Pulse.
5) Wargear. The Tau codex is so old, that it by random chance has some of the cheapest mis-priced wargear around. Use it liberally throughout your forces. In particular:
Disruption pods – EVERY vehicle should have one. Now save the real area cover for your other forces.
Blacksun filters – With nightfighting being the new black this fashion season, don’t be afraid to stuff these on anything that can shoot over 24″. Double nightfight distance is a very long range on average.
6) Positional Relay – The magic box that makes it all work. Compared to every other codex out there the Tau are mono-dimensional and unforgiving. If the bad guys reach you by turn 3, you lose. If you can keep them at bay till 4+ you can pull it out. The positional relay gives you the control you need to throw everything AND the kitchen sink to keep them distracted and hamstrung while you gun them into so much scrap. Speaking of distractions…
7) Kroot – Cheap, and effective scoring glass hammers. The best assault troops you have for the points. Use them ruthlessly, and let your enemy have to deal with them. 40 S:4 shots or 60 S:4 attacks simply cannot be ignored in the enemy backfield. More of these and less overcosted Fire Warriors is the way to go.
8) Gundrones – they are everywhere, and have 101 irritating uses, from channeling movement, to shoring up doomed assaults to buy time, to tarpitting crappy assault forces of your foe, to contesting objectives. Many a game has been swung by the humble gundrone.
9) Crisis suits – Still the bread and butter of the army. Plasma/Missile/multitracker is still the default layout, with a smattering of other builds for distraction/harassing suicide units.
10) Finally a word on HQs. Commanders with bodyguards. You have the only HQs in the game who are default BS:5 with hard hitting long-range weapon options and FOUR wounds. Don’t even waste a second on the other rif-raf HQ choices.
Putting it all together.
Here is my current list and I have been having decent success. It is a toolkit build with a bit of everything.
I normally reserve the Pirahna, Kroot (outflanking), Devilfish Firewarriors (for late game contesting), and the suicide flamer/melta suits (deepstriking). Use the positional relay to being them in in the order best suited to hamstring your foe as much as possible. Target transports with your railguns immediately and hope for the best. You will be surprised even today at what the Tau Empire can put out.
That said, I’m still hoping for a new shiny codex soon. Can I have one pretty please Mr. Kelly?